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Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern is one of the many cisterns in Istanbul. The cisterns are deposits that were constructed so that the city had reserves of water in case of being attacked. Another name (much more attractive) with the one known the cistern is "Palace Submerged".

The Basilica Cistern was built in the time of Justinian I (527-565) to supply the Byzantine Palace. The site (to which it owes its name) was the basement of a basilica of which nothing is left today.

To fill the cistern was used the aqueducts of Valente (still existing) and Adriano. These aqueducts received water from the Belgrade Forests, about 20 kilometers from Constantinople.

The Yerebatan cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı, Turkish name) has a size of 140 by 70 meters and it is estimated that it could store about 100,000 m3 of water.

The Basilica Cistern has 336 columns of 9 meters high. The styles of the columns are very varied, since they were reused of old structures and monuments.

The tour is made by walkways that go above the water. These footbridges were placed at the end of the XX century, since previously the walk was done in boat.

The heads of Medusa

Among the 336 columns of the basilica there are two that are based on a head of Medusa, the mythological being that turned to stone who looked.

There are various theories about what these big heads mean in the cistern, although the most accepted theory is that they were put there for practical purposes, to be used as the basis of the columns.

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