Inferno, water and Hagia Sophia


Hagia Sophia has been subject to many works but it is the first time for a best seller as Inferno. It is impossible to describe it shortly when you talk about a structure of 1500 years if especially this 1500 years old structure is right in the center of historical events. To describe this structure even slightly is a reason to write a very long article about it. Just like in the novel of Dan Brown, Inferno. AltoughHagia Sophia is a kind of support in ‘Inferno’,it has so many roles and cues.

Expected novel of Dan Brown, Inferno is about an epidemic as it is clear beginning with the first pages. An extremely talented scientist tries to spread out the epidemic to be able to balance the world population. Growth rate of world population, how this growth will bring the world to an end and how long it will take to eradicate theworld, they all have been described by numbers and graphics in the book. Natural response to grim reality and ignoring behavior has been described scientifically. Inferno is most discussed work since it points out this kind of subject. The side we are interested in this subject is Hagia Sophia.

Inferno mentions about a germ rested in water for incubation. The only way to reach the incubation is by following the clues. And the hint that goes to the last point has given by Hagia Sophia. While Dan Brown writes a worldwide best seller, he points out the oldest problem of Istanbul unconsciously; Water.

“O you possessed of sturdy intellect, observe the teaching that is hidden here… beneath the veil of verses so obscure. Seek the treacherous doge of Venice who severed the heads of horses……and plucked up the bones of the blind. Kneel within the gilded mouseion of holy wisdom, and place thine ear to the ground, listening for the sounds of trickling water. Follow deep into the sunken palace…. For here, in the darkness, the chthonic monster waits, submerge in bloodred waters, of the lagoon that reflects no stars...

That is the message which drags the hero of Dan Brown (Robert Langdon) to Hagia Sophia in Inferno novel. A lagoon which is hided somewhere and doesn’t reflect the stars.
The place where a city built in, affects the destiny of it. Water springs determines the size of the city. Starting with ancient times, the most important element which caused İstanbul to be enlarged is water. The city has been spread out not with the city potential but with the ability to find water. In Roman period, for the city to be closer to its real potential, even to bring water from Valens aqueduct from unbelievable distances was not a solution to water problem. To be able to provide water needs of city, an alternative water supply was referred; Cisterns.

Not only water accumulated with rains, but underground sources were being directed to these cisterns. Main cisterns were on peak points of the city. The one in Hagia Sophia had a special significance.

A huge cistern underneath Hagia Sophia was mentioned in many legends. An ambassador who visited İstanbul, described this cistern as much as big as a galleon could sail in it. Though these galleons were not huge ships, they were small sea boats which were similar to the ones Christopher Columbus used when he went to find America. But eventually, the mentioned one is not a small rowing-boat. That means the cisterns of Hagia Sophia are directly proportional with the sizes of it. There are many legends about the cisterns underneath of Hagia Sophia. Very famous Turkish traveler and author Evliya Çelebi who had been born in 1611 in İstanbul also touched on the same subject. He claims that, underneath of Hagia Sophia and its neighborhood area, there are huge cisterns of Hz.Süleyman’s palace which are built in year and year one.

But it’s known that all the cisterns in Hagia Sophia are connected with the other cisterns neighborhood.  Our team’s findings while preparing the document ‘Beneath TheHagia Sophia’ are in the same way.

The drought. One of the very old fears of human being.  İstanbul is a city which feels that fear every time. Even there is Hagia Sophia – drought relation in rumors. According to the tales, the people were meeting every day in front of Hagia Sophia and starting to pray when the drought started. Usually at the end of one week or ten days, God was showing mercy to the people and were sending them water from the underneath sources. So the cistern lids in Hagia Sophia were opened and the people could use the water.

Inferno which has a subject matter of water sources and their connections underneath Hagia Sophia, says that this water will be used not to put out a fire but to light the fire. Will the breath-taking chase of Langdon be enough to prevent epidemic? This is a kind of question that you’ll receive the answer while you read ‘Inferno’.

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