Secret under the horizon

The Medusa pillars in the Underground Water Palace.

Innate curiosity and anxiety about survival drive human beings to continuously explore the world around them and expand their horizons bit by bit. The exploration of the world on the ground can no longer satisfy this curiosity. People want to know what kind of victorious place is in the sky and what kind of magical work is on the ground.

Jelebatan Underground Water Palace
In the distant past, the residents of Istanbul’s Old City always heard the clear sound of gurgling water and the dripping ding-dong in a quiet night, but they could not find the source of the sound. This puts the whole city in a thick and mysterious atmosphere, with anxiety and fear lingering in the hearts of residents. In 1545, a scholar named Jeanis came to Istanbul to explore the cultural relics of the Byzantine period. The locals told him that as long as he put the bucket in the basement, he could magically get the water and even fish. This incident aroused great interest in Genesis, so he further carefully surveyed the surrounding environment and finally found a house that could enter the underground palace. After the underground water palace was discovered, the Ottomans did not realize its value, throwing garbage and even corpses in it. Later, through archaeologists’ excavations and continuous repairs, finally, on September 9, 1987, this mysterious underground water palace was brilliantly displayed in front of people. Archaeologists also discovered an amazing fact: underground water palaces are all over the city of Istanbul, and the Jelebatan underground water palace is the largest.

Sophia Cathedral.

Why build so many underground water palaces? In the 6th century AD, the Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire met each other and often fought. In ancient wars, one strategy to control the enemy was to cut off the enemy’s water source or poison the water. In order to be prepared, to prevent enemy siege, and to use water for the court, the Byzantine emperor decided to build an underground water palace. The Water Palace was built in 542 AD and used more than 7,000 slaves. A long water channel was built in the city, and the water from the Belgrade forest, 19 kilometers away from the city, was continuously transported through the city water channel wall. At present, the water diversion tank is still playing a role. This water palace has a huge water storage capacity of 100,000 tons. If it is full of water, it can be used by all the people in the city to drink for a month. Unfortunately, in the 13th century, the water palace was abandoned.

Standing on a small soil slope near the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, you can see a small house next to it that looks very ordinary in appearance. It is always full of people from morning to night, and the procession is extremely slow. This small house is the entrance to the most mysterious underwater palace in Turkey. There is only a small ticket booth at the entrance, which makes people wonder if they are in the right place. Tickets are not expensive, equivalent to about 30 yuan. As soon as I arrived at the entrance of the Water Palace, the cold and humid air rushed towards my face, and people couldn’t help but shudder. The stone steps into the underground water palace are about 50 steps, narrow enough to allow only one person to pass. Under the dim light, dense stone pillars support this huge space, as if in a dense forest. The Underground Water Palace is a rectangular colonnade hall with a width of 70 meters and a length of 140 meters, covering an area of ​​9,800 square meters. The pool is surrounded by piles of nearly 4 meters thick boulders, and the top is carved into a dome-shaped flower. The mortar used is very special, which makes the water-proof function of the water palace quite perfect. The entire water palace is supported by 336 marble pillars, a total of 12 rows, composed of 28 squares, each pillar is 4.9 meters apart. At the bottom of each stone pillar is a warm red lamp shining upward, and there are numbers on the pillars. Each pillar is different, with different forms and patterns. The more than 300 pillars of the water palace are taken from the ancient temples of the Byzantine Empire, making this underground water palace a gathering place for hundreds of families.

After the eyes have adjusted to the environment, they will step down. Many tourists are enthusiastic about taking photos of costumes as a commemorative-wearing ancient Ottoman costumes and dressing up as princesses or princes, this business is very hot. Thousands of years of infiltration and darkness have made the stone roads slippery. The drenched water vapor reflects the lights and stone pillars, like a dream, and it feels like an existence that does not belong to the world, with the illusion of traveling through time and space. A plank road was built in the gloomy underground water palace for tourists to walk, and water droplets slammed on their heads abruptly, as if being pointed by a god. Coming to the depths of the water palace, tourists were scattered, and they were vaguely seen shaking in the hazy, like ghost scenes in the movie. It is said that the underground palace of Jelebatan is the most mysterious attraction in Istanbul, so where is it mysterious?

Underground Water Palace.

Medusa pillars falling sideways.

Weeping stone pillars.

The first mystery is the imprisoned evil spirit-Medusa the Gorgon. In the northwest corner of the Water Palace, there are two huge stone pillars, underneath are Medusa’s heads pressed down, one is upside down, the other is upside down. The two stone statues are more than 1 meter high, and the carved Medusa is a goggle in ancient Greek mythology. She was originally an innocent girl, with sapphire-clear eyes, beautiful long hair, and a graceful figure. She is the only one of the three Medusa sisters who is a mortal body, and was once a priestess in the Temple of Athena. According to local custom, the priestess must remain chaste throughout her life. But the tragedy happened to her peerless appearance. Poseidon, the god of the sea, couldn’t extricate himself after seeing Medusa. The god of war, Athena, was very angry at Medusa’s impure body, and turned Medusa into a terrible goggle. His beautiful eyes no longer flicker, his body is covered with scales, his back is winged, he has no hair, and there are only dozens of snakes circling and twisting. And any man who sees Medusa’s eyes will be attracted to her by her magical power, lose his soul and turn into stone. The lonely and helpless Medusa fled to the end of the underworld and was killed by Perseus, becoming the only monster to die in the myth. As for why Medusa’s head was placed in this way, it is still a mystery. Some people say that it is because the craftsmen are afraid to look directly into her eyes; others say that the height of the pillars is not enough, and the portrait is just right; there is another saying that it is to protect the safety of the water palace and turn trespassers into stone statues. The truth has been lost in the long river of history, only her eyes are watching the passing crowd. It is precisely because of its mystery that people have a strong desire to explore, which makes this underground water palace shine on the map of Turkish monuments and sites.

The second mystery is a weeping stone pillar. This pillar is different from the others. It was built in the 4th century, and the pillars are decorated with many neatly arranged peacock eyes, sparkling with blue-green fluorescence. When the column was wet, it seemed as if tears fell, revealing a sorrow and sorrow. It is said that it was the cry of hundreds of slaves who died to build the underground water palace. The eyes on the stone pillars are also called “Eyes of Turkey”, the exact name is “Eyes of Medusa”, and they are the most favorite amulet and mascot of the Turks. Its shadow can be seen in almost every corner of Turkey, on the dinner plate, on the jewelry, on the door, on the packaging, on the clothing, on the driver’s rearview mirror, inlaid on the sidewalk, on the facade of the building …And even become the corporate logo. The corporate image of Avea, Turkey’s second largest mobile phone operator, is an elegant eye.

The third mystery is the dark pool and the fish inside. From a distance, the pool was completely dark and seemed to be empty. Upon closer inspection, I found that the pool was crystal clear to the bottom, and it was actually packed with black and big fish. If you have a intensive phobia, you may be dizzy on the spot. And whether these fish have been alive for thousands of years, I am afraid no one knows. The water palace is too humid to store food. These fish are used as food reserves for evacuation, and you can fish for fish to satisfy your hunger. Flickering, the school of fish dispersed, as if they had never appeared before. Nietzsche said: “When you stare into the abyss, the abyss also stares at you.” I really don’t know if there are any elves hiding in the depths of this pool, which can’t help but give people endless reverie.

Because of its unique mysterious temperament and majestic momentum, Hollywood’s “007 in Istanbul”, Jackie Chan’s “Secret Agent”, and the United States’ “Dante’s Code” have all been filmed here. In “Dante’s Code”, the protagonist finally traces this underground palace, and the key clues are hidden under the Medusa stone pillars. Walking out of the Underground Water Palace, I feel like I’m back in the world, and the harsh sunlight has become so comfortable and pleasant. It’s hard to imagine how painful and suffering the people who took refuge in the water palace were in those dark days. The mystery of the underground palace has surprised us, but another place in Turkey is even more shocking.

Cappadocia “underground cave city”
Jelebatan, Turkey, is located 300 kilometers southeast of the Turkish capital Ankara. At first glance, I saw many pointed hills on the flat ground, white or off-white, like white snow. Upon closer inspection, I found that they were all hard stones. Millions of years ago, many volcanoes such as Erquies erupted. The scattered volcanic ash gradually deposited, after thousands of years of weathering and rain washing, finally formed today’s unique style. Under the sunlight, the clusters of pinnacles were scattered and dazzling, reflecting the dazzling light. Walking here, as if to an alien planet, full of desolation. If shooting science fiction films here, it is a good choice. Under such a seemingly ordinary appearance, there are amazing secrets hidden deep. These volcanic rocks are soft and easy to excavate. A church can be excavated from the top of a small piece of rock, the exterior is unpretentious, and the interior is complete. The church is designed with columns and vaults, and is also painted with exquisite ochre red murals. From a distance, the rock walls are densely covered with such churches, like more than 600 black hole eyes looking into the distance.

The most amazing is in its underground! Under the surface of Cappadocia, there is an “underground city” hidden. In 1963, a resident discovered an unfathomable hole while digging in his yard. Great curiosity drove him to find out. With the help of other villagers, he climbed the ladder into the cave and shocked the world-he found an “underground city”! So far, 36 underground cities have been discovered, and there are tunnels between the cities. Two of the most famous are Derinkuyu Underground City and Kaymakli Underground City.

In the 17th century BC, the Xitai people, also known as Hittites, had already begun to dig underground cities. They are the first people in the world to trade things, and they are also the first people to use ironware. It is said that in the second century AD, in order to escape the persecution of Roman rulers, some Christians came here, discovered underground caves, and began to expand their territory. By the 7th century AD, when the Arabs invaded Anatolia, the Orthodox Christians fled to Cappadocia and gradually developed the cave into a massive underground city. The Kaymakli Underground City is 40 meters deep and has 8 floors. Currently, only 4 floors have been developed. Derinkuyu means “deep well” in Turkish. The underground city of Derinkuyu has about 18-20 floors, more than 1,200 rooms, and it reaches 70-90 meters underground. Although living underground, it does not affect people’s quality of life. There are bedrooms, storage rooms, water storage rooms, wine making workshops, wine cellars, kitchens, meeting rooms, churches, tombs, schools, stables, etc.

The bedrooms are connected by a tunnel. The tunnel is extremely narrow, allowing only one person to bend through, and many passages can only squat forward. People at that time should be very slim and agile. The long and low passages ensure the safety of the dungeon. The enemy will not only be unable to form a formation through here, but will also be attacked by the stone chambers on both sides. After drilling through each long and narrow passage, there is a feeling of bright willows, straightened up, and let out a long sigh of relief. The stone niches on the wall of the storage room are divided into categories, which can store different materials. The cavity in the wall of the water storage room is used to hold water tanks.

People stepped on the grape juice with their feet, flowed into the stone trough below through small holes, and finally put them into tanks for storage. The storage room is next to the brewing room. A bottle of wine is brewed in about half a year. Many people feel bad when they see grape juice squeezed out with their feet. In fact, this process can squeeze the peel well, so that the nutrients in the peel are dissolved in the grape juice, and the wine produced has a unique flavor. In the movie “Walking in the Clouds”, there is a wonderful clip of the heroine stepping on grapes, and the neatly arranged grooves on the wall are actually used to hold wine cans. Going into another room, the top of your head is black. There are dozens of round pits on a huge disc-shaped stone. In fact, this is the condiment table, and every small hole puts a condiment. How about it, do you feel that people’s lives at that time were still very particular? The outermost stone chamber is a stable, and the stone cave on the opposite wall is used to fill grass and water. Residents usually live on the ground, and when foreign enemies invade, they quickly withdraw to the ground. A round stone disc with a diameter of more than one meter is placed at the passageway between each layer. It can move left and right, open on one side, and has a one-meter-high narrow checkpoint. This is a unique safety device for dungeons. If someone strikes, as long as you pull the hidden mechanism, the stone pan will automatically seal the hole.

Cappadocia in Turkey.

Derinkuyu tourist map.

The interior view of Kaymakli Underground City, Turkey.

The interior view of Kaymakli Underground City, Turkey.

The entire dungeon is a huge maze, and every room is like hollow cheese. And in a closed space like an underground city, the air must be terrible, right? of course not! The underground city ventilation system is ingeniously designed. There are not only stone ladders connected between each floor, but also many shafts and secret passages. The vertical stone cave connects the ground and the lowest level. The bottom layer is the source of underground water, and the ventilation ducts lead to hidden places on the ground. There are openings on each floor, and the air naturally convections and circulates in the castle, so walking in the castle doesn’t feel boring at all! The climate in Cappadocia is very harsh, with bitter cold in winter and reaching 40 degrees Celsius in summer. However, the underground city maintains a constant temperature of 13-16 degrees Celsius all year round, and is an ideal home for heatstroke prevention and cold resistance.

Dubai’s underwater hotel
Dubai has always been famous for its architecture. It used amazing financial resources to build various magical buildings, such as the seven-star Burj Al Arab hotel, which made the world feel the luxury and madness of Dubai people. Now, Dubai has turned the world in the science fiction novel “Twenty Thousand Miles Under the Sea” into reality and built a ten-star underwater hotel. The Dubai Underwater Hotel is located in the Arabian Gulf, designed by the British Deep Sea Technology Company, invested by BIG, and constructed by Dry Dock World. Construction started in 2008 and completed and opened in December 2017. The room is priced at US$6,200.

The appearance of the hotel resembles an alien spacecraft, divided into two parts: water and underwater. One disk is located above the water and connects with 4 small disks, resembling a spaceship; the other disk is located 10 meters underwater. The water and underwater are connected by 3 “legs”, inside the “legs” are elevators and stairs. There are restaurants, swimming pools and huge indoor hot springs on the water. The underwater part has 21 rooms, a diving center and a bar. The hotel lobby is located in the center of a huge swimming pool. The screen on the lobby wall displays the pictures of tourists diving outside the hotel, allowing you to feel the breath of the ocean while walking inside the hotel.

With a good lighting system, you can watch the colorful underwater world. When entering the room, what you see is not the sunlight, blue sky, and white clouds, but the colorful fish in the deep sea, the slowly swimming turtles, and the corals of various shapes. Occasionally there are sharks staying in front of the window. How amazing is this experience of looking at the sharks! For hotels built in the water, safety issues are of paramount importance. The safety level of this hotel has reached the highest standard of building safety in the world. The water part can withstand tsunamis and floods. Once a danger occurs, the underwater part will immediately surface. Isn’t it sci-fi?

The underwater hotel in Dubai is mainly composed of two flying saucer-shaped buildings on the surface and underwater. Connecting the two large flying saucers is a tubular elevator that carries guests in and out of the seabed.

In the underwater hotel room, people can admire the underwater world of creatures.

The hotel’s underwater suites are designed for vacationers who wish to explore the depths of the ocean.

Middle East authentic
Underground space certainly includes tunnels, but in modern times, it is difficult for people to appreciate its magic. On January 3, 2019, an Afghan news agency reported that late on New Year’s Day, Taliban militants launched a surprise attack on a military base in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Hundreds of tons of firearms and ammunition were successfully blown up, resulting in 5 deaths and 6 injuries. The whole process took less than 30 minutes. This base is protected by both the U.S. military and the Afghan government forces. How did the Taliban militants succeed in a sneak attack? The answer is: authentic.

Coincidentally. The Hamas organization in Palestine also uses the primitive warfare method of tunnel warfare to counter the Israeli army. The Israeli army is well-equipped and well-trained. After repeated defeats on the frontal battlefield, Hamas had to move all its weapons and equipment underground, which could not only escape the powerful Israeli air strikes, but also protect its own personnel and weapons. After the successful small-scale test of Hamas, it was expanded into a tunnel network that stretches for tens of kilometers. It not only transports weapons, but also transports materials, transfers armed personnel, and can even reach Israeli-controlled areas to launch raids, which caught the Israeli army by surprise. Hamas has also used tunnels to kidnap Israeli soldiers and ordinary people in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

When faced with this kind of tunnel warfare at the beginning, the Israeli army was at a loss and broke their brains. Later, Israel successfully developed a ground penetrating bomb. The MPR-500 ground penetrating projectile weighs about 227 kilograms, and the warhead can be guided by photoelectric or laser, and can penetrate 4 layers of reinforced concrete walls. The underground explosion damage range can reach 100 meters, even a solid underground fortress can penetrate. In addition to developing ground-penetrating bombs, the Israeli army has also put seismic weapons into use. In the code-named “Operation North Shield,” the Israeli military used a new type of radar to detect the location of the tunnel through directional sound waves and gravity waves. After the location is determined, the ground penetrating projectile is used to attack the enemy. In the “North Shield Operation”, using this method, the Israeli army destroyed more than 30 tunnels.

This is certainly not the full usage of authentic. The Gaza Strip, where conflicts are intensive between Palestine and Israel, is known as “the largest open-air prison in the world.” Here, the ground has long been covered by wars and conflicts, and people’s lives and transactions have gone underground. The smugglers in Palestine performed the function of authenticity to the fullest. It not only transports people, commodities, materials, weapons, but even brides, fast food, and animals. In 2013, the Egyptian girl Shana had been engaged to the Palestinian fiance for 6 months, but she never got the permit to enter Gaza. So she chose to wore a white wedding dress and went into the tunnel to become a smuggling bride, which also gave the tunnel a romantic color.

If you want to eat fried chicken in Gaza, it is completely impossible without authenticity, because the KFC on the ground has been bombed beyond recognition. In order to eat fried chicken, you must book one night in advance, make an international long-distance trip to Egypt, and transfer the money first. The next day, the Egyptian brother helped you buy fried chicken in Egypt and handed it to the courier; the courier crossed half a kilometer of a simple tunnel, and then delivered the fried chicken to the brother in Gaza; the brother in Gaza then gave it to the motorcyclist , The motorcyclist rode for an hour and delivered to the door. If everything goes well, delicious fried chicken can be delivered to you in 24 hours. Fried chicken costing only $12 in Egypt rose to $30 after arriving in Gaza. In order to slowly enjoy this hard-won delicacy, they will chew slowly and make this rare moment of happiness last longer.

Obviously, smuggling by tunnel is a very profitable business. In addition to fried chicken, they also smuggle all kinds of tobacco, alcohol, sugar, tea, and even various animals. In just one year, the magic tunnel gave birth to 1,800 millionaires in Gaza; in just one quarter, it provided 65% of flour, 67% of consumer products, 98% of sugar, 100% of steel and cement. .