Basilica Cistern

In the Depths of history

One of the crucial brilliant historic buildings of İstanbul is the Basilica Cistern located within the southwest of Hagia Sofia. Constructed for Justinianus I, the Byzantium Emperor (527-565), this tremendous underground water reservoir is known as as “Yerebatan Cistern” among the public due to the fact that of the underground marble columns. As there was a basilica in the place of the cistern, it’s also called Basilica Cistern.

The cistern is a hundred and forty m long, and 70 m extensive, and covers an oblong discipline as a large constitution. Accessible with fifty two-step staircase, the Cistern shelters 336 columns, every of which is 9 m high. Erected at 4.Eighty m intervals from one yet another the columns are composed of 12 rows, every has 28 columns. The case-bay of the cistern is conveyed by the columns by way of arches. Majority of the columns, most of which is understood to had been compiled from the ancient buildings and sculpted of more than a few forms of marbles, is composed of a single section and one in every of it’s composed of two components. The head of these columns endure extraordinary features in materials. Ninety eight of them replicate the Corinthian sort and part of them mirror the Dorian style. The cistern has 4.80 m excessive brick walls, and the floor is protected through bricks, and plastered by way of a thick layer of brick dirt mortar for water tightness. Covering 9,800 sqm subject in complete, the cistern has an estimated water storage ability of 100,000 lots.

basilica cisternMedusa Heads

Except couple of the edged and grooved columns of the cistern, majority of them are formed as a cylinder. Two Medusa heads, that are used as supports below the two columns on the northwest fringe of the cistern, are the best work of art from the Roman interval. What attracts most awareness from the visitors is that the structure from which the Medusa heads were taken is unknown. The researchers on the whole remember that it has been brought for getting used as helps to the column at the time of construction of the cistern.  However, this has no longer avoided myths for the heads of Medusa.

Because the legend has it, Medusa is among the three Gorgonas that are feminine monsters within the underground world in Greek mythology.  The snake-head Medusa, one of the crucial three sisters, has the vigour of gorgonising the ones that occur to seem at her. As a consequence, Gorgone paintings and sculptures had been being used for protecting massive constructions and designated venues in that point. And striking the pinnacle of medusa in the cistern used to be for shielding functions. In keeping with a further rumour, Medusa was once a girl who boasted for her black eyes, lengthy hair and attractive body. She loved Perseus, the son of Zeus. Athena was also in love with Perseus and this made Medusa jealous. For this reason, Athena changed medusa’s hairs into snakes. Now, everyone that occurred to seem at Medusa used to be gorgonised. Afterwards, Perseus headed off medusa and beat many enemies with the aid of using her power.

medusaTherefore, the top of Medusa used to be engraved on the handles of the swords in Byzantium, and utilized onto helps of the communes in reverse (so that the onlookers would no longer be gorgonised).

Consistent with a further hearsay, Medusa gorgonised herself by watching sideways. For that reason, the sculptor that made it generated Medusa in three exceptional positions depending on the reflection angles of the light. The Basilica Cistern has been renovated time and again except in these days. It used to be repaired by way of the Architect Kayserili Mehmet Ağa for the duration of the reign of Ahmad III (M.1723) within the Ottoman Empire, adopted with the aid of Sultan Abdulhamid II (1876-1909) in the nineteenth century. There are eight columns in front of the northeast wall in the direction of the core of the cistern, they usually had been exposed to the risk of breaking during the development works in 1955-1960, hence every of them have been surrounded with the aid of a thick layer of cement, so that they misplaced their previous feature although.

During the rule of thumb of Byzantium, the Basilica Cistern used to satisfy the water needs and requisites of the pleasant palace that included a broad area the place the emperor resided, as well as the other denizens in the area. After conquest of the town of Istanbul in 1453, it was once used for a bit of at the same time and water used to be supplied to Topkapı Palace the place the sultans resided..

medusaNevertheless, the Ottomans favored walking water over nonetheless water, and founded their own water facilities within the city.

It’s understood that the cistern was now not used thereafter and the western world didn’t realize it except the mid XVI century. It was once in 1544-1550 when P. Gyllius, a Dutch traveller that came to Istanbul for making researches on Byzantium ruins was rediscovered and introduced to the western world. In one of his researches, P. Gyllius, even as roaming round Hagia Sofia, managed to enter throughout the cistern with a torch carrying in his hand via proceeding from the stone steps that went towards the underground from the outside of a wooden building surrounded via partitions headquartered on a significant underground cistern as he was told that the house owners there pulled water with buckets down inside the big round holes just like good on the ground ground of their residences, and even fished there. P. Gyllius ranged around the cistern on a rowing boat beneath harsh stipulations, measured it and recognized the columns. The expertise acquired from his expertise used to be published in the travel publication, and Gyllius had affect on many travelers.

The cistern used to be discipline to repeated renovations given that its institution. Renovated twice in the course of the reign of the Ottoman Empire, the cistern was repaired for the duration of the guideline of Ahmed III (1723) with the aid of the Architect Kayserili Mehmet Ağa for the primary time. And the 2nd restore used to be made during the rule of thumb of Sultan Abdulhamid II (1876-1909). In republican period, the cistern used to be cleaned via Istanbul Municipality in 1987, and was opened to visits for making a route. Yet another broad cleaning was once made in may 1994.

This mysterious venue is an integral a part of the Istanbul itineraries and has been visited -amongst others- by way of the us former President bill Clinton, Wim Kok the high Minister of the Netherlands, Lamberto Dini, Former Minister of foreign Affairs of Italy, Göran Persson, Former prime Minister of Sweden and Thomas Klestil, Former high Minister of Austria until in these days.

Presently operated through okültür A.Ş. (tradition Co.), some of the affiliates of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the Basilica Cistern features as a museum and is the dwelling for a lot of countrywide and global activities

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