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UNDERGROUND CISTERN

Yerebatan Sarayi (which translates as "Sunken Palace") is İstanbul's largest underground cistern.  It is the only one in the city that has been renovated and opened for public viewing.  The cistern was constructed during the reign of Constantine I in the 4th century and was enlarged by Justinian I in the 6th century.  For much of the Ottoman period it served as little more than a well and a fishing hole for the locals in what is now Sultanahmet.  In 1987 the cistern underwent massive restoration work, which included the removal of 50,000 tons of mud and water.  Today Yerebatan Sarayı is a major tourist attraction and offers cool respite from İstanbul's searing summer heat.  Pulsing lights, water dripping from the ceiling and eerie music played over strategically placed speakers add an air of mystery to the place.

The cistern is 140 by 70 meters (459 by 230 feet) and holds 80,000 cubic meters of water.  Supporting the ceiling of small domes are 336 columns, many of which are mismatched and appear to have been pilfered from elsewhere.  The purpose of the two large Medusa heads supporting a pair of columns on the north side of the cistern is unknown, since they were not discovered until the cistern was drained..


Address: Yerebatan Caddesi, Sultanahmet
Telephone: +90-212 522 12 59
Open Hours: Open 09:00-18:00 daily, except Monday (October to March : 09:00-17:00 )

 


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