Discover the History of the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul Turkey

The Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns under the city of Istanbul, Turkey. It is known as the Basilica Cistern because of its beautiful mosaics, which include Medusa heads, hen’s eyes, slanted branches, and tears. To discover its history, you must first learn about its structure. After this, you will be able to interpret and appreciate its mosaics.

Basilica Cistern in Istanbul, Turkey

Medusa Heads

Two mammoth Medusa heads are installed in the Basilica Cistern, the first on its sides, and the other upside-down. Both heads are derived from Greek mythology, which depicts Medusa as a female monster with snakes for hair. Anyone who looked into her eyes was immediately turned to stone. Although it is unclear how these heads ended up in the Basilica Cistern, it is thought that they were removed from a Roman-era building. Visitors can also observe the carp in the shallow waters.

Basilica Cistern Medusa Heads

There are several myths about the Basilica Cistern, including the presence of Medusa heads. This ancient site is sometimes referred to as the Sunken Palace and Basilica Cistern. Regardless of the name, it is attracting worldwide attention, and a 1963 James Bond film was shot on the site. It has also been featured in many other films, including the recent The X-Files reboot.

The two Medusa heads in the Basilica Cistern are a perfect example of Roman-era architecture. They function as columns’ bases, and they are masterpieces of Roman sculpture art. The reason why the heads are turned upside-down is unclear, but many researchers believe that they were originally brought to the cistern for their use as column bases. The unknown source of Medusa’s Head has led to many myths involving the figure.

Hen’s Eye

The Basilica Cistern of Istanbul is home to the famous Peacock-eyed column or the Hen’s eye. The tears dripping down the column’s face pay tribute to the slaves who died while building the basilica. According to ancient texts, the tears may be the tears of slaves who died while building the basilica. In this case, the cistern was constructed to house the slaves’ remains.

Basilica Cistern Hen’s Eye

The Basilica Cistern, also known as the Cisterna Basilica, is an underground chamber that is one of the most important sights in Istanbul. It is one of the city’s most visited attractions and many tours include it. It was originally built during the Early Roman Age as a legal, artistic, and commercial center. After a fire in 476, the Basilica was reconstructed by Illus. It was reconstructed again by Emperor Justinian in 532.

Despite the fact that this cistern is the largest of the 80 in Istanbul, it is not the only noteworthy structure. The Basilica Cistern is a fascinating place to visit. The various columns and capitals are quite impressive, and the Hen’s eye column features tear-drop motifs. It is said that these tears are the tears of thousands of slaves who were employed to build the Basilica Cistern. The statue is considered to be the “Hen’s eye” of the Basilica, and there are a total of seven thousand slaves who died during the construction.

Slanted branches

The Basilica Cistern is an ancient structure located at the center of Rome. Its columns are still visible. It is also the home of two Medusa heads, the heads of which are used as column bases. It is unclear how they were acquired, but some rumors say they were recycled from a late Roman building. In any case, they provide a unique visual experience to the Basilica Cistern.

Basilica Cistern Slanted Branches

The Basilica Cistern is one of the largest underground chambers in the world, stretching over 138 meters and 64 metres wide. Its ceiling is supported by 336 marble columns, each standing 9 meters high. The Cistern served as a reservoir for water for the palaces in the area, and water was brought in via aqueducts to the basilica and other buildings. This is the largest of its kind in the world and can hold over 80,000 cubic meters of water.

The Basilica Cistern is accessible across from the Hagia Sophia and was built by Emperor Justinian I in the sixth century to supply the water needs of the Great Palace. The Basilica Cistern received its name from the nearby Ilius Basilica. The Basilica Cistern’s roof is supported by 336 marble columns, most of them in Ionic or Corinthian styles. These columns are nine meters high and arranged in twelve rows of 28. The majority of the columns are one piece, with one piece in the center and the other in the middle.


The Basilica Cistern is an interesting architectural feature. It has two columns decorated with Gorgon heads. One is called “peacock-eyed” and the other “tear-drop”. The two are carved with different designs, and the two columns are similar in form, but their purpose is different. Both are designed to serve as water reservoirs for the basilica. The cistern’s roof is topped by an elegantly carved marble arch.

Basilica Cistern Tears

Visitors can also explore the Crying Column, which has a wet appearance and is meant to recall the 7000 slaves who perished during the construction of the basilica. The Basilica Cistern also features two columns with Medusa heads that add to its overall appeal. The cistern also features 336 marble columns. There is also a “wish pool” nearby. Throwing a coin into this pool will make a wish come true!

The Basilica Cistern is an interesting historical monument. The columns and capitals are decorated with motifs and symbols that are common to Greek and Roman art. One column has Medusa heads on it, while another has Hen’s Eye. Ancient texts claim that the tears on the Hen’s eye represent the 7000 slaves who were used for the construction of the basilica. The cistern is open to the public between 9 am and 6 pm, Monday to Friday.

Brick floors

The Basilica Cistern is the third-most-visited museum in Turkey. It is constructed by Byzantine Emperor Justinian the First and features 336 columns resembling palaces. The building is more than nine hundred square meters in area and has a capacity of 80 thousand cubic meters of water. The column heads are decorated with different styles, with some of them even made especially for the cistern. The walls are up to five meters thick and contain a Khorasan mortar floor. The columns are waterproof because of a thin layer of Horasan mortar.

Basilica Cistern Brick Floors

The Cistern is surrounded by columns that are shaped like a cylinder. Under two of the columns are two Medusa heads, an intriguing work of art from the Roman period. Researchers have not discovered where the heads came from, but they believe that they were incorporated into the cistern as the construction of the basilica began. The myth of the Medusa persists due to the fact that it is unclear where it originated.

The Great Basilica cistern is the largest in the world. Its walls are more than four meters thick and its floor is made of brick tiles. The cistern has a storage capacity of 100,000 tons of water. The cistern’s pillars are adorned with repeated geometric shapes, including the Teardrop shape, which is believed to symbolize the slaves who were used in the construction of the basilica.

Rectangular Plan

The Basilica Cistern is located in the Sultanahmet Square, between St. Sophia and Divanyolu roads. The Basilica building was used during the Byzantium period to teach literature. Inside, there is a statue of a Medusa head. This monument is a masterpiece of Roman Age sculpture. It is a perfect example of the importance of preserving history and tradition.

Basilica Cistern Rectangular Plan

The interior of the Basilica Cistern is very spacious, with over 9800m’ of floor space. The walls are 4.80m thick, and the floor is made of brick plastered with mortar to prevent water from leaking. The entire area is approximately 9800m’ in size and holds approximately 100,000 tons of water. The cistern has undergone several restorations since its foundation. The first restoration was in 1723 during Ottoman times, and the last was in 1994 during the Turkish Republic.

During the Byzantine period, the Basilica Cistern covered a huge area, and served the needs of the great palace and the denizens of the surrounding region. After the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, the Basilica Cistern was used for a short time by the Ottomans. The Ottomans preferred running water over still water, so they built their own water facilities in the city. Until the mid-XVI century, the Basilica Cistern was little known in the western world.

Water Supply

The Basilica Cistern is the only underground water storage system in the world and was constructed by Emperor Justinian I around AD 532. It measures 138 meters by 65 meters and has a capacity of 80,000 cubic meters. It is made of 336 columns, each 9 meters high, with a base made of limestone. The walls are 5 m (16 ft) thick and made of baked clay bricks.

Basilica Cistern Water Supply

The cistern is also known as the Underground Palace Cistern and is the largest in the city. It was built by Emperor Justinian in 527 when the city was recovering from the Nika Revolt. The Emperor’s troops killed 30,000 rioters and commissioned the building of the Basilica Cistern. When it was finished, it had served as the city’s water storage reservoir for nearly forty years. Its purpose was to serve as a reservoir for the Grand Palace and other major buildings on the First Hill. Later, the water supply was used for irrigating the gardens at the Topkapi Palace.

Before the Ottoman Empire took over Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern had not been famous. In fact, it was shot down, and its importance was lost to the public. In 1545, the French scholar Petrus Gyllius discovered it. At the time, the locals claimed that they gathered water from the Basilica Cistern and also caught fish in the water. These stories led to the construction of other cisterns in the area.


What Are Medusa Heads In Basilica Cistern?

Two mammoth Medusa heads are installed in the Basilica Cistern, the first on its sides, and the other upside-down. Both heads are derived from Greek mythology, which depicts Medusa as a female monster with snakes for hair.

What Is Hen’s Eye In Basilica Cistern?

The Basilica Cistern of Istanbul is home to the famous Peacock-eyed column or the Hen’s eye. The tears dripping down the column’s face pay tribute to the slaves who died while building the basilica.