The Basilica Cistern is a remarkable feat of engineering and architecture, but it is also shrouded in mystery and legend. One of the most intriguing mysteries of the cistern is the presence of two Medusa heads, which are thought to have been brought to the site from a nearby temple. Legend has it that the heads were placed upside down and sideways to prevent their powers from harming anyone who looked upon them.
Another mystery surrounding the cistern is the existence of underground tunnels that are said to connect the cistern to other parts of the city, including the Topkapi Palace. While some historians believe that these tunnels were used to transport goods and people, others speculate that they were used for more secretive purposes. Despite the many mysteries surrounding the cistern, it remains one of the most fascinating and beloved landmarks in Istanbul, attracting visitors from all over the world who come to marvel at its beauty and wonder about its many secrets.
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The placement of the two Medusa heads in the cistern has been a subject of much speculation and debate. Some believe that they were placed there for protection against evil spirits, while others think that they may have been intended as a tribute to the goddess Medusa. Still others speculate that they may have been placed there simply for decoration, or to serve as supports for the columns.
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Despite the fact that the cistern was built to provide a reliable water supply to the city, the exact source of the water remains unknown. Some believe that it came from the Belgrade Forest, located 19 kilometers north of Istanbul, while others speculate that it was sourced from the hills near the Sea of Marmara.
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There are rumors that there are hidden chambers within the cistern, which have never been explored. Some believe that these chambers may contain valuable artifacts or treasures, while others speculate that they may have served as secret meeting places for the Byzantine elite.
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The 336 columns that support the cistern are all different, with varying designs and sizes. Some believe that each column may represent a different tribe or nation that was part of the Byzantine Empire, while others think that they may symbolize the diversity of the empire itself.
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The exact reason why the Medusa heads were placed in the cistern is unknown. Some theories suggest that they were placed there to ward off evil spirits, while others suggest that they were intended as a tribute to the goddess Medusa.
The cistern is approximately 9 meters deep (30 feet), and can hold up to 100,000 tons of water.
Yes, the cistern is open to visitors and is a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can walk along a wooden platform that has been built over the water, allowing them to see the columns and the Medusa heads up close.
There are rumors of hidden chambers within the cistern that have never been explored, but there is no concrete evidence to support these claims.
The cistern has been a crucial source of water for Istanbul for many centuries, and has also been used for cultural events such as concerts and exhibitions. It has also been a source of inspiration for artists and writers, and is considered a symbol of Istanbul's rich cultural heritage.
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