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Tuesday, 2-Aug-2005 00:00 Email | Share | Bookmark
Yerebatan Saray (Sunken Palace), Istanbul

Beneath Istanbul lie hundreds of gloomy Byzantine cisterns. They're left from the days of Constantinople.

The grandest of all is Yerebatan Saray Sarniçi, called the Sunken Palace Cistern because of its size (70 x 140 meters, or 2.4 acres), its capacity (80,000 cubic meters--over 21 million US gallons) and its 336 marble columns.

Remember the scene in the old James Bond movie From Russia With Love when Bond is rowing in a small boat through a forest of marble columns? That scene was filmed in Yerebatan.

Walkways and atmospheric lighting were installed during the 1990s so you can see all its curious corners. There's even a little cafe for drinks and snacks.

Yerebatan is in Sultanahmet Square, at the northeastern end of the Hippodrome, just off Divan Yolu, and across the street from Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia).

A visit can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. There's a few dollars' admission fee.

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