Basilica Cistern is a large underground water cistern located in the historical peninsula of Istanbul. It was built by Justinian I between 532 and 542, when Istanbul faced water supply problems during the Byzantine Empire.
Here is some important information about the Basilica Cistern
Dimensions: The total area of the Basilica Cistern is 9,800 square meters and the total water capacity is 80,000 cubic meters.
Construction Period (6th Century): Basilica Cistern was built between 532 and 542 during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. During this period, Istanbul was experiencing great difficulties in water supply and the cistern was built to meet the water needs of the city.
Source of Water: The water source of the cistern was provided through aqueducts built to deliver water brought from far away to the city. The cistern was used to store this water and distribute it to the city.
Origin of the Columns: The 336 columns in the cistern were made of materials mostly from ancient Roman and Greek temples. These columns add aesthetic richness to the architecture of the cistern.
Oblivion and Discovery (16th Century): Basilica Cistern was forgotten over time and was discovered by chance during the construction of Topkapi Palace in the 16th century. The cistern was unearthed while providing water to be used in the construction of Topkapi Palace.
Other Uses: Basilica Cistern has been used for different purposes in various periods throughout history. While it was used as a water storage area during the Ottoman period, it was forgotten and rediscovered from time to time.
Today, the Basilica Cistern is one of the tourist attractions of Istanbul and offers visitors both a historical journey and an impressive architectural experience.
Other Byzantine cisterns can also be found in different parts of Istanbul, but the Basilica Cistern is the most visited and known. If you like history and mysterious places, it may be interesting to explore the Byzantine cisterns in Istanbul.
Apart from the Basilica Cistern, there are several other important Byzantine cisterns in Istanbul. Other popular cistern are listed below.
Binbirdirek Cistern is an ancient water cistern located in the historical peninsula of Istanbul. It was built in the 4th century and is supported by 212 columns. It was used for water storage and supply. As one of the water structures of Istanbul's Byzantine period, it is an interesting point for history and architecture lovers.
Theodosius Cistern (Serefiye)
Serefiye Cistern, aged 1,600 years, rests in Istanbul's Historic Peninsula. No sign reveals its birth, but hints point to Theodosius II's era. What makes it buzz today? The fusion of history, art, and tech—a dazzling dance played out through a pioneering 360° projection mapping system, a first in Turkey's heritage scene.
The Cukurbostan cistern, built in the mid-6th century, spans a significant area. Its historical duty of meeting various water needs resonates through the ages. Despite being neglected by tourists, these cisterns carry vital historical and architectural weight. Exploring Istanbul and stumbling upon these hidden historical treasures could enrich your journey with a captivating layer of intrigue.
The Beyazit Cistern has a rich history, with artifacts spanning 1500 years from the Roman to the early Byzantine period. An extensive 10-year archaeological study by the Istanbul Archaeological Museum unveiled this historical treasure. Initially constructed as a public building in the late Roman era, it later evolved, with its lower floor repurposed into a cistern for water storage. Adding to its intrigue, there are rumors suggesting its use as a library during the Byzantine period. A captivating blend of history and function over the centuries!