Basilica Cistern Reopened Its Doors

The Basilica Cistern, considered one of the world’s most important cultural heritages and one of the earliest architectural examples that have survived to the present day in the historical peninsula of Istanbul, has opened its doors to visitors after the completion of the meticulous restoration works carried out.

The museum opened to visitors after six years as part of the restoration works carried out by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Department of Cultural Heritage and was met with intense interest from local and foreign tourists. The Basilica Cistern can be visited every day between 9.00-17.00.

The Importance of the Basilica Cistern

The cistern, built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (527-565), is known as the “Basilica Palace” among the people due to the marble pillars rising from the water and appearing as innumerable. Since there was a basilica in the place where the cistern is located, it is also known as the Basilica Cistern.

Covering a rectangular area of ​​140 meters by 70 meters, the cathedral-size cistern covers a total area of ​​9,800 square meters. The cistern has a water storage capacity of approximately 100 thousand tons and has 336 columns with a height of 9 meters. Among the symbols of the historical cistern is the column engraved with tear-like symbols, popularly known as the “weeping column” or the “tear column”, which according to ancient texts, pays tribute to the hundreds of people who died during the construction. Another symbol is the two “Medusa Heads”, considered masterpieces of Roman sculpture art.

Head of Medusa

The two Medusa heads used as pedestals under the two columns in the northwest corner of the cistern are masterpieces of Roman sculpture art. The Medusa heads attract the most attention from visitors, and it is unknown from which structures the Medusa heads were taken and brought here. Researchers generally think that they were brought during the construction of the cistern only to be used as a column base.

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