Basilica Cistern reopens after five years

Basilica Cistern reopens after five years

Basilica Cistern reopens after five years

The Basilica Cistern, located close to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet area, has been reopened to visitors after the completion of restoration works.

After it was determined that the Basilica Cistern could get seriously damaged in a possible earthquake, a strengthening project was prepared, and restoration works were initiated within its scope by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

The historic building will be open every day of the week between 9 a.m and 5 p.m.

The Basilica Cistern, one of the magnificent ancient structures in Istanbul, is located southwest of Hagia Sofia. Constructed for the Byzantium Emperor Justinianus I (527-565), this big underground water reservoir was opened to the public in 1987 by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.

The cistern is 140 meters long and 70 meters wide and covers a rectangular area as a giant building. Accessible with its 52-step staircase, the cistern shelters 336 columns, each of which is 9-meter-high.

Two heads of Medusa, a female monster of the underworld in Greek Mythology, are used as bases for two columns on the left side of the cistern. Dating back to the early fourth century, it is still unknown from where they were removed and brought from.

Covering a 9,800-square-meter area in total, the cistern, historically used to serve the water needs of Istanbul locals during the Byzantine and Ottoman eras, has a water storage capacity of around 100,000 tons.

Meanwhile, during the archaeological excavations in and around the Million Stone, located right next to the Basilica Cistern and is considered the zero point of the world, the remains of buildings that are believed to be a neighborhood in the Ottoman Empire and walls from the Byzantine era came to light on July 11.