Basilica Cistern

Weather :

Label : Instagram Worthy

Tags : Historical Site

Timings : 9:00 - 18:30 Mid April - Sepyember, 9:00 - 17:30 November - Mid April

Entry Fee : TRY 20

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Basilica Cistern, Istanbul Overview

Basilica Cistern is the largest cistern in the city of Istanbul, built underneath the Stoa Basilica. It has hundreds of decorated columns and is a simply breathtaking piece of architecture. There is only a few feet of water in the cistern today, above which platforms are built for people to tour it.

Built in 532 by Justinian, this is the largest surviving cistern in the city. It was built to provide water supply to the Great Palace and the complex surrounding it, and it could hold 80,000 cubic metres of water. The astonishing thing about this cistern is the amount of precision that has gone into it's construction. It has a total of 336 marble columns, engraved with various symbols, organised into 12 rows of 28 columns, each spaced by exactly 4.9 metres. There is only a few feet of water in the cistern today, above which platforms were built for people to tour it. Another interesting feature here is that two columns actually have bases that depict the head of Medusa. Located in the north-western corner, it is widely believed they were brought here from a building of the Roman period, and that they are placed upside down to reduce the effectiveness of the lethal gaze of Medusa. After several restorations, mostly relating to cleaning, it was opened to the public in 1987 and fast became one of Istanbul's prime attractions.

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