If you’re visiting Istanbul, Turkey, you must add the Basilica Cistern to your list of must-see attractions. This ancient underground water cistern, also known as the Yerebatan Sarayı or the Sunken Palace, is one of the most unique and impressive historical sites in the city.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the history, architecture, and cultural significance of the Basilica Cistern.
Basilica Cistern tickets are essential to explore one of Istanbul’s most captivating underground wonders. This ancient water reservoir, built during the Roman period, boasts impressive Medusa heads and stunning lighting effects. With your Basilica Cistern tickets, you can wander around the dimly lit corridors and marvel at the grand architecture of this subterranean marvel.
There are plenty of exciting things to do near Basilica Cistern that will enrich your Istanbul experience. You can take a stroll through the beautiful gardens of Topkapi Palace or visit the Hagia Sophia Museum, a stunning example of Byzantine architecture.
Additionally, you can shop for souvenirs at the Grand Bazaar or indulge in Turkish cuisine at a nearby restaurant.
History of the Basilica Cistern
Built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, the Basilica Cistern was designed to store water for the city’s growing population. It’s estimated that the cistern could hold up to 80,000 cubic meters of water, which was delivered through aqueducts from as far away as the Belgrade Forest.
Over the centuries, the Basilica Cistern fell into disrepair and was forgotten until the 16th century, when Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi rediscovered it. The cistern was restored during Ottoman times and continued to provide water to the city until the 19th century. Today, it’s a popular tourist attraction that draws visitors from around the world.
Architecture and Design of the Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern features a unique architectural design that blends Roman and Byzantine styles. The cistern is supported by 336 columns, each of which is 9 meters high and spaced 4.8 meters apart. The columns are arranged in 12 rows, with each row consisting of 28 columns. The roof of the cistern is made of brick and features vaulted ceilings that add to the cistern’s sense of grandeur.
One of the most striking features of the Basilica Cistern is the Medusa Heads, two marble pillars that are carved with the head of Medusa. The pillars are believed to have been taken from a Roman temple and reused in the cistern. One pillar is placed upside down, while the other is on its side, which adds to the mysterious and eerie atmosphere of the cistern.
Cultural Significance of the Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern has played an important role in Istanbul’s history and culture. In addition to providing water to the city, the cistern has been the site of several important events and ceremonies. For example, in 1914, the Ottoman Empire held a ceremony in the cistern to mark the start of the construction of the Baghdad Railway. The ceremony was attended by high-ranking Ottoman officials as well as German diplomats.
Today, the Basilica Cistern is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Visitors can explore the cistern’s unique architecture and learn about its history and cultural significance. The cistern is also used as a venue for special events, such as concerts and art exhibitions.
The Basilica Cistern is a truly unique and impressive historical site that offers visitors a glimpse into Istanbul’s rich history and culture. Its fascinating architecture, mysterious atmosphere, and cultural significance make it a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the city.
Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or just looking for an interesting place to visit, the Basilica Cistern is sure to leave a lasting impression.
April 19, 2023 12:26 pm Leave your thoughts