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Underground Cisterns of Istanbul

underground cistern istanbul

A unique journey to uncover the hidden marvels of Roman engineering beneath the bustling streets of Istanbul’s Old City. These historical treasures, once designed as lifelines to combat the city’s thirst,now stand as mysterious underground ‘cisterns,’ ranging from dry relics to those cradling modest amounts of water.

private tour guide

Among the most exquisite examples of enclosed spaces are the Yerebatan and Binbirdirek cisterns. The largest of these,the Yerebatan Cistern, was commissioned by Emperor Justinian I following the Nika Revolt in 532 A.D. Built by 7,000 workers using remnants of a basilica (Hagia Sophia) that was destroyed in a fire in 475 A.D., it’s also known as the Basilica Cistern. Today,it’s the most frequented cistern,hosting numerous national and international events.

Here,you will also encounter the Serpentine Head of the Medusa statue. Following our visit to the Basilica Cistern,you can lead you to another recently restored cistern,now operating as an underground restaurant, the SARNIÇ RESTAURANT.You will then proceed to the BINBIRDIREK CISTERN, where we’ll marvel at ancient Roman architecture.

The Last one is the SEREFIYE CISTERN, constructed during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II between 428 A.D. and 443 A.D. and recently restored by the Istanbul Municipality for cultural activities.