The beautiful Basilica Cistern is one of several hundred cisterns that lie underneath the city of Istanbul. This incredible place was built in the 6th century, just next to the Hagia Sophia. It is quite a dark and mysterious attraction.
The cistern was used to supply water to the Great Palace of Constantinople as well as other buildings on the First Hill. Its purpose was water storage as well as water filtration for those buildings.
This huge historical cistern is approximately 105,000 square feet in area and can hold up to 2,800,000 cubic feet of water. Today the cistern is not used and has very little water. Due to its underground construction, the roof of the cistern is held aloft by 336 marble pillars. These pillars were salvaged from other buildings, some outside of the city itself and many of the pillars are either Ionic or Corinthian style with a few Doric columns.
Touring this ancient artifact is one of the many attractions in the city of Istanbul. The history of an empire can be told in the artifacts and buildings left behind as well as its infrastructure – of which the cistern is an example.
The crying column is a monument to the slaves who lost their lives building this amazing water cistern. I thought is was really sad that so many slaves died in its construction. The column is always wet representing the tears.
The Medusa head columns are a great artwork from the Roman Period. They attract the attention of most people. It’s not known where these heads have been taken from. I found them very intriguing, I almost felt seduced by the medusa, but luckily I wasn’t turned to stone.
I had a very enjoyable day exploring the Basilica cisterns. I would recommend everybody to visit it when they are in Istanbul.