The Basilica Cistern: Robert Langdon is the worst ‘Symboligist’ Ever

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul
So eerie, so drippy, so humid

I read Dan Brown’s Inferno on the flight to Lisbon and finished while I was in Rome, so I was psyched that part of that absurdly ridiculous story was set in Istanbul. I won’t spoil the story, but I will say that the Basilica Cistern featured! Dan Brown’s hacky prose didn’t prepare me for the spectacular experience of walking down into the Basilica Cistern. It was a bit crowded, but despite that, it was stunning enough that the line (maybe 10 minutes?) and the stop-and-go crowding at the base of the stairs didn’t really bother me.

Sign for the Basilica Cistern, Istanbul
The first line definitely says something about the Roman empire, but that’s all I got
Basilica Cistern
You can almost see the fish!

Try, try, try as I (and many others) might, it’s really hard to take a decent photo down there. But it’s insanely atmospheric (and humid), with the pathways through the columns and the drip… drip… drip from the ceilings. We even chose to relax a minute in the cafe there and shockingly we weren’t insanely gauged for our drinks, only a little bit.

tree knot column, Basilica Cistern, Istanbul
Drama with the tree knot column
Medusa Head, Basilica Cistern, Istanbul
Drama with the upside-down Medusa head
Fish, Basilica Cistern, Istanbul
And drama with the fish
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4 thoughts on “The Basilica Cistern: Robert Langdon is the worst ‘Symboligist’ Ever

  1. What wonderful photos! You did really well. It is so hard getting a good shot down there. I didn’t manage the Medusa near so well. When I was there, there was a big booth in the corner where they dressed us up as Ottoman royalty and took photos. It was anachronistic but a lot of fun.

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