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Basilica Cistern & Binbirdirek Cistern

Hidden Beauties Of Istanbul: Basilica Cistern & Binbirdirek Cistern

The Basilica Cistern was constructed to provide water to Istanbul in 4th century AD by the order of Emperor Constantine. As water of Black Sea and Marmara Sea is not appropriate for drinking, it was a must in that time to build water passage and storage.

Impressive Byzantine aqueducts helped to transport the water through underground cistern. The water was then used for the Great Palace during the Byzantine Empire and the Topkapi Palace during the Ottoman Empire. Some of these aqueducts are still standing today.

Probably, the most amazing feature of The Basilica Cistern is Medusa Heads used for supporting the ceiling. According to Greek mythology; Medusa, with snake hair could turn creatures looking directly to her eyes into stones. Many controversies exist about origin of these stones. It is said that Medusa head were turned upside down to prevent Medusa from turning people into stones or to remove evil powers.

No matter what, you should definitely see the awe – inspiring reflections of the columns on the water in the Cistern and mythical Medusa heads.

Another hidden beauty in Istanbul, just like its sister, Binbirdirek Cistern is near Sultan Ahmed Square. It was constructed to serve as a water reservoir just like Basilica Cistern. The name of the cistern may be coming from “binbir”. It means abundance, or as a claim of somebody maybe the name would come from the word “bindir” as the body of the columns exists one on the top of the other.  It attracts attention that too many Greek letters have performed on the body of the columns.  Stoneworkers who worked and performed for the columns are described in these signed. Although it is close to visiting, special occasions can be celebrated in Binbirdirek Cistern by permission.

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