In the historical center of Istanbul, there is one very interesting place you can come across. At first glance, this restaurant is not different from hundreds of other similar places: there are no unique dishes or luxurious interiors. The main feature of this attraction lies in the fact that the ancient ruins of the Constantinople palace are located beneath the feet of the visitors, which anyone can look at.
How to get there
The establishment where you can take a tour of the underground complex is called Palatium Cafe and Restaurant. Its address is Cankurtaran, Kutlugün Sk. No:33. This place is easy to find on online maps. If you plan to get here by public transport, the easiest way is to take the tram and get off at the "Sultanahmet" station.
The entrance to the small underground complex is in the inner courtyard of the restaurant building. Visiting the attraction is free. However, it is not necessary to order anything at the establishment to enter.
A bit of history
The underground ruins are part of the ancient palace of Magnaura, a structure that belonged to the no longer existing Great Palace complex. Emperor Constantine the Great began construction of this ensemble in 328 AD, almost immediately after the founding of Constantinople. Later Byzantine rulers often rebuilt and expanded it.
At its peak, the Great Palace, including several magnificent buildings, occupied an area of 100,000 square meters. The complex was the main residence of Byzantine emperors until 1204.
According to the text on the information board installed here, Magnaura Palace was used to accommodate foreign guests. There was a church and a bathhouse on its territory, and the interiors of the building were famous for their silver chandeliers and a throne with lions.
The underground exhibition is a small network of rooms located below the modern ground level. For the convenience of guests, the rooms are equipped with lighting and signs with facts about the history of this place in several languages.
The network of palace rooms under the restaurant is not the only place in Istanbul where you can see the ruins of the ancient complex. Some of the old structures were discovered, for example, on the territory of the Four Seasons Hotel, which is located very close to the restaurant. In addition, a large exhibition with the remnants of ancient pavement is in the Museum of the Mosaic of the Great Palace.
I am sure that those who decide to take a walk around this attraction will want to continue exploring the underground world of Istanbul. I would recommend to such tourists to pay attention to the Nakkaş Cistern, which is located very close to here. The great advantage of this exhibition is that you can enter the ancient water reservoir for free.
Have a nice trip!