Basilica Cistern

Istanbul, Turkey

Basilica Cistern


The Basilica Cistern, or Cisterna Basilica (Greek: βασιλική κινστέρνή, Turkish: Yerebatan Sarnıcı or Yerebatan Saray, "Subterranean Cistern" or "Subterranean Palace"), is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul, Turkey. The cistern, located 150 metres (490 ft) southwest of the Hagia Sophia on the historical peninsula of Sarayburnu, was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. Today it is kept with little water, for public access inside the space.

This subterranean cistern was called Basilica because it was located under a large public square, the Stoa Basilica, on the First Hill of Constantinople. Prior to its construction, a great basilica stood on the spot. It had been built during the Early Roman Age between the 3rd and 4th centuries as a commercial, legal and artistic centre. The basilica was reconstructed by Illus after a fire in 476.

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