Discovery of Ottoman Era Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey

İstanbul'un 265 yıllık su terazisi

With the recent news of the discovery of an Ottoman-era cistern in Istanbul, I was brought right back to my time spent in this awesome city, and my own visit to the Basilica Cistern. I thought I would share the discovery of the new cistern, and compare it to the pre-existing one that is open to the public for tours.

“Those tired of the waiting line to enter Sultanahmet’s famous Basilica Cistern will soon have another visiting option following the discovery of a still-active cistern beneath Nuruosmaniye Mosque next to the Grand Bazaar.

The 265-year-old cistern was only discovered during renovations to the mosque, according to Foundations Istanbul Provincial Director İbrahim Özekinci.

n_55541_4“We removed 420 trucks’ worth of slime from the cistern. Then the magnificent gallery, cistern and water gauge became visible. The Ottomans used a modern system according to contemporary earthquake regulations. This cistern is really a magnificent one, it is very special. All waters from the surrounding gather here. There is also a well under this cistern. After cleaning the mud, we saw that the system was still working,” he said.

Restoration work on the cistern is nearing completion, and the structure is expected to open to visits within the year. Özekinci said the construction of the Nuruosmaniye Mosque, which is located on one of the seven hills of Istanbul, started in 1748 during the reign of Mahmud I but that the construction was completed in the term of Osman III. “This is why the mosque is called Nuruosmaniye.”He said the mosque depicted the transition in architecture from the classical Ottoman style to baroque with its 174 windows.”

Read the full article here.


As promised, here’s a little tidbit about the Basilica Cistern:


My travel photo for the day was taken inside the Basilica Cistern during my time in Istanbul. This place was super cool and definitely worth the wait to get in. Built in the 6th century, this giant subterranean cistern was constructed beneath the site of a much older basilica.

“In 1940, several of the structures built on and around the Basilica Cistern were nationalized and a neat building was constructed at the entrance of the Cistern by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. It was also exposed to a wide range of cleaning  process between 1985-1988. Thus dirty water and tons of mud were removed and a promenade platform was built in the cistern. After the cleaning process was completed, the two Medusa heads, masterpieces of the First Age Art of Statuary were used as pedestals at the bottom of the two columns in the northwest corner of the cistern. It is not known exactly when or for what purpose the were antique Medusa and Gorgon heads were brought to the Basilica Cistern.” (source)



Further Reading:
Discovery of Cistern in Istanbul
 Travel Photo – Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern wiki page 
– Basilica Cistern History (Places to go in Turkey)
– Basilica Cisterns of Istanbul

Look at me, all tan and trendy in Istanbul!


2 responses to “Discovery of Ottoman Era Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey

  1. Thanks for posting this story! I’m in Istanbul right now, I only wish it were open to the public now so I could go check it out. You’re absolutely right, the basilica Cistern is pretty cool, in every sense of the word, and it was one of my favorite Sultanahmet sites to visit.

    • Yeah, it’s definitely a cool spot. Maybe at some point this new one will be opened to the public too! Hopefully in time for my next visit to Istanbul, whenever that is!

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