World Bulletin/News Desk
Basilica Cistern, one of the magnificent historical constructions of Istanbul attracted over two million visitors - including 1.7 million foreigners in 2013, the director of Basilica told Anadolu Agency.
Basilica Cistern is located near the southwest of Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia); the huge cistern, which was built in 542 by Justinianus I, a Byzantine Emporer, is known to the public as 'the Sinking Palace'.
The underground cistern, which provided water to the grand palace during the Byzantine Empire where the emperors lived, was used after the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottomans in 1453; the gardens of Topkapi Palace were irrigated with the water from this cistern.
The Basilica Cistern was turned into a museum and opened for visitors by the Istanbul Municipality in 1987 after the restorations it has undergone in recent years.
The Cistern provided for the water needs of the people during periods of drought, and were used for many purposes throughout history - such as silk and lemon warehouses, or as shelter after they were drained.
Meaning 'small pools' in Arabic, cistern has stone-made stores to collect rainwater, lakes and rivers to be used when required.
Having broken its own historical record of visitor after world famous writer Dan Brown's book 'Inferno' was published, the cistern was also used as a setting in the James Bond movie, 'From Russia With Love'.
The Basilica Cistern was given its name because it is located under the Stoa Basilica. It covers an area of 140 meters long and 70 meters wide. The cistern has 336 marble columns in Ionic or Corinthian styles, which are 9 meters in length. To enter the cistern, one has to go down a 52-step staircase.
Two heads of Medusa -- a female monster of the underworld in Greek Mythology -- are used as bases for two columns on the left side of the cistern. Dating back to early 4th century, it is still unknown from where they were removed and brought from.Last Mod: 09 Şubat 2014, 11:32