Kerim Bey's Escape Route (Basilica Cistern)

Kerim Bey's Escape Route (Basilica Cistern)


Yerebatan Sarnici, Yerebatan C No: 13 34410, Sultanahmet-Istanbul, Turkey

Featured in From Russia With Love (1963)


Kerim Bey shows Bond the access to this underground cistern from the back of his rug shop. They proceed through the various columns until Bond is shown the periscope which allows him to spy on the Soviet embassy, and see the lower-half of Tatiana Romanova. The cistern is also used later in the film when Bond and Kerim Bey escape through its passage ways after stealing the LEKTOR decoder.


The Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici in Turkish) located in the historical penninsula of Istanbul, is one of the few early architectural examples that have survived till the present age. This glamourous underground cistern was built during the reign of Emperor Justinianus in the 16th Century, the age of glory for eastern Rome.

The cistern is 143 metres long and 65 metres wide, and covers a total area of 9,800 sqm. There are 336 marble columns in the cistern, each 9 metres high. The columns are arranged in 12 rows each consisting of 28 columns. The captials of the columns are mainly in the ionic and corinthian styles, with the exception of a few in the doric style with no engravings.

The cistern is surrounded by a firebrick wall with a thickness of 4 metres and coated with a special mortar for insulation against water. The cisterns water was provided from the Belgrade woods, which lie 19km north of the city, via aqueducts built by the emperpr Justinianus.

Cracks that started to appear in some of the columns where repaired in 1968. Having being restored in 1985 by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the cistern was once again opened to the public on 9th September 1987. §

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