Rainy Byzantine Sunday
On this, the rainiest of Sundays, I decided to take a trip to another 'must-see' site in Istanbul. A place filled with water, with water dripping from the ceilings, in fact: the Basilica Cistern. Kiddy corner from the Hagia Sophia, the Cisterns were built in the 6th century, when Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire. It served as a water filtration system for palaces in the First Hill (now Sultanhamet), and channeled water from Belgrade Forest, via an aqueduct.
|The vaulted ceilings of the Basilica Cistern|
|Medusa Head- Sculpture at the bottom of a column|
|Upside Down Medusa Head|
|Pillar with Crying Eyes|
|View of the cathedral-like space of the Basilica Cistern|
The amazing thing about the Cisterns is that when they stopped being used by the Ottoman Empire, people, who lived in the vicinity still used them to draw water from and even to fish from the basements of their homes. There was no wide knowledge of these cisterns, until the mid 16th century. There are still tons of fish, including gigantic carp, in the underwater pools.
|So many fish swimming around!|
Jeremy joined us, and after a while we said our goodbyes and went looking for a place that had backgammon boards. Jeremy has finally nailed the rules and was eager to get some practice time in. We found a cozy coffee shop and plopped ourselves down on the plump, cushioned seats to play.
And, as if Sunday couldn't get any better, it finally came time for my amazing jewelry class. I had come prepared with a coffee cake in tow, for our mid-class cay break, and was happy to leave the rain and sink into the warmth of the people in the class and the tiny studio filled with specialized little tools. We finished the pendants we started last class, and I got to make a hollow ball (for a pendant), with minimal guidance from my teacher. Soldering the two halves together was the most exciting part and I got a little nervous, when my teacher started repeating the same phrase to me in Turkish, that I did not understand. He finally grabbed my hand, to lead me through the rest of the way. My classmates liked my cake and the calligraphy teacher, who often sits in on our classes, gave me the recipe for an easy dried fig and walnut cake, that I will try to make for next week.
Coming home, the day came back to water, as Jeremy was cooking fish for dinner. We enjoyed the tasty balik and settled into Sunday quiet time out of the rain, as I thought to myself, "I sure am lucky."