If you are a traveller looking for a unique place to explore in Istanbul, then you should definitely check out the Basilica Cistern. This ancient subterranean structure is one of Istanbul’s oldest and most mysterious sites. Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I between 532 and 537 AD, this massive underground cistern was originally used as a water reservoir for the Great Palace of Constantinople.
What to Expect at the Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern is an architectural marvel that stands as a testament to the engineering acumen of its creators. The main chamber of the cistern is 138 meters long and 64 meters wide, with 336 marble columns arranged in 12 rows that support its ceiling. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, these columns help keep the water clean since they are made from porous limestone which filters out debris.
A visit to the Basilica Cistern is an unforgettable experience, with visitors being able to explore this mysterious underground structure on their own or with a guided tour. Be sure to bring a flashlight if you plan on exploring it yourself, as some parts are quite dark! As you wander through this ancient cistern, look out for two interesting features – Medusa Columns and Headless Statues. There are two Medusa Columns located at either end of the cistern; one upside down and one right side up which may have been used as bases for statues or columns during antiquity. Two headless statues were discovered in the depths of the cistern which can be seen on display near the entrance.
Weather Conditions in Istanbul
Istanbul has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. July and August are the hottest months, with average highs in the mid-80s Fahrenheit (30s Celsius), while January and February are the coolest, with average lows in the low 40s Fahrenheit (single digits Celsius). Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, with occasional heavy downpours and the possibility of snow during the winter months. Overall, Istanbul has a temperate climate, influenced by its location along the Bosporus Strait and its proximity to the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara.
If you want to get information about weather conditions in Istanbul, you can check our Weather in Istanbul article.
The Basilica Cistern is an incredible site that transports visitors back in time to when it first opened more than 1,500 years ago. It’s a great place for travellers looking for an off-the-beaten-path adventure in Istanbul and provides plenty of opportunities for exploration and discovery. So why not take a break from regular tourist spots and visit this beautiful underground world? You won’t regret it!
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