▼Art exhibit in the Cistern
▼ Medusa Column bases
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 they were placed sideways and upside down only to be the proper size to support their columns.
According to popular myth, Medusa was one of the three Gorgons, the terrifying female creatures from Greek Mythology. Legend has it that Medusa, with her hair of snakes, could turn anyone who looked at her into stone, and therefore images of Gorgons were used to protect great buildings. Another version of the story claims that Medusa was the only mortal Gorgon, a beautiful girl with long hair and dark eyes who had long been in love with Perseus, the son of Zeus. Athene, also in love with Perseus, turned Medusa's hair into snakes in a jealous rage. From then on, every person Medusa looked at was petrified. After learning of Medusa's curse, Perseus beheaded her, taking her head to war with him and turning his enemies into stone. It is said that many Byzantium era sword handles and columns were engraved with her head upside down.
Ceramics as souvenirs at the Basilica Cistern.
The Basilica Cistern was the last thing we were able to visit in Istanbul. It was worth every lira of it. It's a must see definitely and you'll not be sorry. I don't know if you can really see roman columns underneath a city.... Breathtaking!
See ya soon, Love, Gab~