The Underground Palace, Istanbul


This is the first time I have ever gone to Istanbul and what a mystical, place it is with so many sights and sounds to see. Stepping back in time to the 6th century the underground dark remains of the Palace Cistern takes you back to the Byzantine and Roman eras. With artefacts that seem to be staring at you and a darkness that fills the palace with cold air do I really want to be in an underground palace?

Walking through the dark underground palace on old cobbled floors leading to rooms that look like large caves, we spotted descending stairs leading to frightening roman architecture. Leading off from the architecture we came across the bases of two columns blocks carved with the face of Medusa, who was a Greek goddess and was from the family of Gorgons who were known for their power and being of monstrous form. Three hundred and thirty-six illuminated long rows of pillars which radiated red light down to a corridor were brought before us and we wondered where this cobbled paths would take us next.

We spotted the old cistern which the palace was originally used for to store huge amounts of water. At this point we encountered what seemed like an eerie shadow which illuminated light was it a ghost or just a reflection from our surroundings? We quickly moved ahead brisk walking to see the channels which were filled with water hosted an array of carp fish which were circulating inside the greeny blue pools of water. The classical background music played throughout our visit and added to the historical atmosphere. Nearing the end of our tour there was a chance to make a wish and throw a coin into the cistern as legend has it that if you throw a coin into the well your wish will come true.

As I peered into the wells I saw lots of coins embedded onto the surface of the pools and it looked like many people have made their wish here (perhaps the wish was to get out as soon as possible).

Perhaps this wasn’t the best place to visit with my two kids who wanted to pull every artefact within reach, however they seemed to fall asleep by the end of the tour thank god! It is very dark inside this palace, not a place I would want to wander in alone so luckily I went with the family.

Reaching the end of the underground palace a light shone before us yes it was the exit out and a nice burst of sunshine refreshing us from the darkness.



T Nazeer


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