بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم
“Can we go to Basilica Cistern, please… ” doctor Keiko persuade, “While we’re here.”
A visit to Basilica is not listed in the schedule but not stop at these amazingly place is the same as regret. I asked for the opinion of other pilgrims, apparently they agreed. Smile blushed in doctor Keiko face.
Crossing the rocky path that separates Hagia Sophia from the Basilica Cistern, a red tram passed before us. Inside the Turks were engrossed in conversation while others looked curiously at us. Maybe they wonder, “where are they from?”
From the outside, Basilica Cistern looks like an unattractive rectangle. Layered with yellowish-gray paint, the narrow building only had a small entrance guarded by a fierce-looking old security guard. The pockets of his eyes that clearly seemed as if to say, “you guys are still coming anyway, I’m already sleepy!” Above the narrow entrance was plastered with white plates marked Yerebatan Sarnici or The Basilica Cistern.
We were allowed entry after handing tickets to the security guard. A small staircase in a dark room seemed to lead us to a void. Dark and thrilling. This is the simplest way to describe what is inside.
Firstly built in 4th century AD, the Romans made this vast basement as a reservoir of water for the occasional city to be surrounded by enemies so that the inhabitants were not short of drinking water. The room, which in its heyday can accommodate 100,000 tons of water is connected with aqueduct that extends along the 19-kilometer pipeline from the city to Belgrad Ormani or Belgrade Forest. Although the name implies the capital of Serbia but the forest is located in the area of Istanbul; only in that place did many Serbs live.
The awkward feeling of awe filled my heart as I stepped on a path blocked by a fence on either side. Located near the stairs there is a café that offers visitors a thrill of drinking in the dark. Next to the cafe, there is a photo booth whose existence is somewhat damaging to the mood. In contrast to the whole room that is illuminated by a minimalist lights small red glowing; the booth’s photo looks brightly lit because of the many spotlights there as well as the smiles of the tourists who are taking pictures with traditional Turkish outfits whose colors are bright.
The path took us deeper into the darkness. Beneath our feet large gold fish danced between the ancient Greek columns and ancient pillars supporting the roof above us. At the bottom of the pool are spheres of light that reflect light while some jubilant tourists throw more coins to add it numbers. The deeper we enter the narrow and decrease the road. Now the dancing fish is just a dip of finger from us. Right at the end of the road is a statue of Medusa head which placed upside down to hold the pole. Emperor Constantine deliberately put it upside down as an insult to the remains of pagan believers as well as a danger-prevention talisman.