Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul, TR

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul, TR, - Dervishes -

The city, Istanbul, is very old. For centuries people lived in close proximity to the sea but there was always a need for drinking water. So how did the Ottomans handle the lack of fresh drinking water? There are not enough rivers or lakes to supply the need for water by millions. Carol and I found out about the ancient methods, still used today. There are many reservoirs strategically placed below ground throughout Istanbul.

The old water reservoir we visited, the Basilica Cistern, was built as early as the 6th century when Istanbul was still named Constantinople.  The spot where the water is stored today was a Cathedral in the 6th Century and when this Cathedral burned down it was converted to a Reservoir. The details about just this one water storage place are mind-boggling. I have the feeling that Istanbul, like Rome, Athens or Damascus, has many layers below ground that are hardly visible. 
The Cistern Is Huge And The Lights Make It Look Romantic 

The Basilica Cistern From The Outside
I was told that 7000 slaves were used to build this huge holding tank. To find columns, to find any other building material, the ruins of the burned down Cathedral were looted and anything the people could find to make building easier was used to build the water reservoir. While we visited we saw a mix of these columns within this cistern. One of those columns had an upside down carved head of Medusa as a base. Another column had another Medusa head placed sideways. Some columns had ornate decorations of the Evil Eye (supposed to ward off evil Spirits). The whole installation was huge. Capable of holding 2.8 million square feet of water, this Cistern sure helped with the water usage. Most of the water stored was rain water.

Today, instead of relying on just rain water Istanbul recycles water very carefully. This ancient installation just serves to show how it used to be so some water is kept in the old Basilica Cistern. Today’s water comes from deep wells far away and is being pumped into Istanbul. But rain water and recycled water are the main sources for Istanbul’s water.
The Fish Are Blind 
Fish swim and spawn in those waters.

 Many of those fish have lived inside the holding tank for so long they can no longer see. They have lived and bred inside the cistern for generation after generation, living always in the dark. Those fish cannot live any place else now, they must stay in the cistern. It is a strange ‘evolution’.
You Must Turn Your Hand 360 Degrees To Get Good Luck

Visiting this old Cistern, built so long ago by slaves, left me in awe of the energy that was expended to make Istanbul the stronghold it is. This cistern is extremely large, even a bit eerie. I imagined the light failing while being deep inside it. A touch spooky! (I always have a working flashlight on me). Yea! 

The seeing eye column is said to bring good luck "IF" you can turn your hand a full 360 degrees around the 'eyeball'.

Carol could do it, too !
Good Job, Carol !
Move Away A Bit And It Gets Darker And Darker 

Dark In Some Spots, EERIE !!!!
Medusa's Head On Its Side As The Base For One Of The Columns
Upside Down Medusa Head Is The Base Of Another Column
Elegant Marble Columns With Decorations Were Used Inside The Cistern

No comments: