Basilica Cistern

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We almost skipped this when I saw the entry price was $10, but I’m glad we didn’t. The Basilica Cistern is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.

Imagine entering a small, cement, single story building in the middle of downtown Manhattan, then walking down a long flight of stairs to the depth of the subway and coming into a single giant underground room the size of a professional football stadium. That’s how big the Basilica Cistern is.


Even more amazingly is that it was built by manual labor in the 500’s! The Byzantines used scrap materials from ruins to build it, but it doesn’t look like the things I built with scrap materials when I was a kid. The columns are towering, the archways beautifully symmetric. As a creepy bonus, Medusa heads were used as the bases for two of the columns.

In case you don’t know what a cistern is (I didn’t either), it’s a huge underground tank that holds fresh water. They were commonly built in Ancient cities for the municipal water supply.

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