Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

Another important landmark of Istanbul is the Basilica Cistern, located in a not so visible place, between the Hippodrome and Hagia Sophia. The other name of the basilica is the Submerged Palace because of the water level in it, and it served to supply the whole city with fresh water. It was made in an antique style, and the marble columns inside make it very attractive for tourists. Although there are a large number of cisterns in Istanbul, classified into three groups, above-ground, underground and open cisterns, the Basilica Cistern ranks number one in size. The basilica is named after the basilica that was located above the cistern, on a hill.

This landmark from the 6th century was created during the reign of Emperor Justinian I, 532. It originally supplied water to the great palace of Constantinople, and then to other buildings. The cistern was also used after the fall of Constantinople.

On an area of 9,800m2, the vault of the cistern is supported by 9-meter columns, made in the Ionic and Corinthian styles. They are mostly engraved, and a particularly interesting column is the column with the eye of Fatima, which is characteristic of this city. There are a total of 336 pillars holding up the roof. The construction lasted about 2 years, after which clean water came to the city.
In addition to the characteristic pillars, there are stone Medusa heads that stand upside down, turned 90 and 180 degrees. It is believed that the heads belonged to some of the landmarks from the Roman period.

Also, another popular column is the Weeping column, which symbolizes the tears of the slaves who worked on the basilica, and some think that it means crying for those whose lives were lost during construction.

It is also interesting that the Cistern Basilica was used for the filming of several films, so the second part of the popular agent 007 James Bond was filmed here. Today, the cistern is considered a very interesting place for photographers.

Author of the text:

Maja Glavaš, Bachelor with Honours in Communicology. Works in Tourism.
Contact: [email protected]; instagram: travel_europe1

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