Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Something About the Basilica Cistern

Bond in the Basilica Cistern
Subterranean home sunk blues.

I saw a couple sweet potatoes yesterday in the kitchen. I may wake up early and spiralize them tomorrow. I thought if the potatoes were long, curly strands then we’d forego the whole yam thing. And then the long, curly strands reminded me of Medusa and the underground cistern in Constantinople. Kitschy, I know, but – come on. I needed something to talk about today.

Anyway, the Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns beneath the city. This one is a mere 500 feet southwest of the Hagia Sophia and was built in the 6th Century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. Remember: he's the one with all the hip parties. (Brewster said so.)

In the northwest corner of the cistern are two columns whose base reuse blocks carved with the image of the Gorgon, Medusa. I don't know if Bellairs thought of these large heads when he wrote about the Guardian of the Sunken Palace quizzing the characters during their time traveling jaunt or not, but it’s fun to think so.

And if you're curious what the underground cistern looked like 50-plus years ago then fire up the VCR and catch the early scenes of the James Bond film, From Russia with Love (1963). Instead of Medusa you get Daniela Bianchi, briefly wandering around the underground room.  


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