The Basilica Cistern (Turkish: Yerebatan Sarayı - "Sunken Palace", or Yerebatan Sarnıcı - "Sunken Cistern"), is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), Turkey. The cistern, located 500 feet (150 m) southwest of the Hagia Sophia on the historical peninsula of Sarayburnu, was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.

Located in the northwest corner of the cistern, the bases of two columns reuse blocks carved with the visage of Medusa. The origin of the two heads is unknown, though it is thought that the heads were brought to the cistern after being removed from a building of the late Roman period. There is no written evidence that suggests they were used as column pedestals previously. Tradition has it that the blocks are oriented sideways and inverted in order to negate the power of the Gorgons' gaze, however it is widely thought that one was placed sideways only to be the proper size to support the column. The upside down Medusa was placed that way specifically because she would be the same height right side up.
Historic Areas of Istanbul, Basilica Cistern, TurkeyHistoric Areas of Istanbul, Basilica Cistern, TurkeyHistoric Areas of Istanbul, Basilica Cistern, Turkey

Categories & Keywords
Category:Travel and Places
Subcategory:Middle East
Subcategory Detail:Turkey
Keywords:Basilica Cistern, Constantinopel, Constantinople, Dan Brown, Gorgons gaze, Historic Areas of Istanbul, Inferno, Istanboel, Istanbul, Patriomonio de la Humanidad, Robert Langdon, Sarayburnu, Sunken Cistern, Sunken Palace, Turkey, Turkije, Turquie, Türkei, Türkiye, Unesco, Welterbe, World Heritage, Yerebatan Sarayı, Yerebatan Sarnıcı, cistern, dünya mirası, gorgon, medusa, patrimoine mondial, werelderfgoed