Yesterday, on our last day in Istanbul, we visited the Basilica Cistern. It was built in 532 AD and it could hold tons of water. It was stylized with Roman age sculpture which was brought to Istanbul. After the Ottomans conquered Istanbul, the basilica was forgotten about and built around. It wasn’t until 20-30 years ago, when people wondered why certain people could fish out of their basements, that it was rediscovered. This notion of rediscovery is so intriguing because it is a hard concept to grasp as Americans.
It is incredible to walk around in a city that has buildings that are older than our nation. I was so taken aback by the idea that a great structure could be forgotten about and only rediscovered recently. Istanbul is known for these layers of history, as the city has been built up by the different rulers and peoples.
The Basilica Cistern was a mystical and peaceful place. It was lit in a spectacular way. Another interesting aspect of the site was the two columns that had the face on Medusa depicted on them. However, Medusa is displayed upside down on one and sideways on another. It is clear that the Medusa columns were brought to Istanbul and consciously arranged that way. It is unclear why but there are several theories. I love the air of mystery that the Basilica Cistern possessed as a forgotten site.
We had an amazing stay in Istanbul and will miss the city vey much! We are excited for our new journeys in Turkey!