Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern is a magnificent historical site in Istanbul, Turkey, that has stood the test of time. With its unique architecture, this underground water reservoir has captured the attention of many tourists over the years. This article will delve into the Basilica Cistern history, its design and architecture, and its significance to Istanbul’s water supply system.

History of the Basilica Cistern:

As mentioned earlier, the Basilica Cistern was constructed in 532 AD by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I to provide water to the city of Constantinople. The cistern was built on the site of a former basilica, which is how it got its name. It was used to store water brought in by aqueducts from nearby forests and was instrumental in providing a stable water supply to the city’s inhabitants.

Over the centuries, the Basilica Cistern has undergone several repairs and modifications, including being used as a dumping ground for debris by the Ottomans during their occupation of the city. It wasn’t until the 16th century that the cistern was restored to its former glory by the Ottomans, who recognized its historical and cultural significance.

Design and Architecture:

The Basilica Cistern’s design and architecture are awe-inspiring, to say the least. The cistern measures 140 meters by 70 meters and has a capacity of 80,000 cubic meters of water. It is supported by a total of 336 columns, which are arranged in 12 rows of 28 columns each.

The columns are made of different materials, including granite and marble, and have different designs. Some of the columns are even recycled from older structures, which adds to the cistern’s historical significance. The cistern’s ceiling is arched, and the water is illuminated by strategically placed lights, which create an otherworldly atmosphere.

One of the most famous features of the Basilica Cistern is the two Medusa heads, which serve as the base for two of the columns. The origin of these heads is unclear, but they are believed to have been brought from a pagan temple and repurposed as a protective charm.

The Significance of the Basilica Cistern to Istanbul’s Water Supply System:

The Basilica Cistern played a significant role in Istanbul’s water supply system during the Byzantine era. The city’s inhabitants depended on the cistern for their daily water needs, and it helped alleviate the water shortage problem that plagued the city for years.

The cistern also has historical and cultural significance, as it is one of the few remaining structures that bear witness to Istanbul’s past. The fact that it has survived for centuries, despite being used as a dumping ground for debris and undergoing several repairs and modifications, is a testament to its resilience and importance.

Tips for Visiting the Basilica Cistern:

Visiting the Basilica Cistern is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Istanbul. Here are some tips to make the most out of your visit:

Dress appropriately – The Basilica Cistern is an underground structure, and the temperature can be cooler than outside. Make sure to dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable shoes.

Buy tickets in advance – The Basilica Cistern is a popular tourist destination, and the lines can be long. To avoid waiting in line, consider buying tickets in advance.

Hire a guide – A guide can provide valuable information about the cistern’s history

Richard Maxwell

For Any Inquiry Contact Us Here :- [email protected]

Related Articles

Back to top button