Basilica Cistern,Istanbul…Basílica Cisterna, Estambul

Text credits:
This subterranean structure was commissioned by Emperor Justinian and built in 532. The largest surviving Byzantine cistern in İstanbul, it was constructed using 336 columns, many of which were salvaged from ruined temples and feature fine carved capitals. Its symmetry and sheer grandeur of conception are quite breathtaking, and its cavernous depths make a great retreat on summer days.
Like most sites in İstanbul, the cistern has an unusual history. It was originally known as the Basilica Cistern because it lay underneath the Stoa Basilica, one of the great squares on the first hill. Designed to service the Great Palace and surrounding buildings, it was able to store up to 80,000 cu metres of water delivered via 20km of aqueducts from a reservoir near the Black Sea, but was closed when the Byzantine emperors relocated from the Great Palace. Forgotten by the city authorities some time before the Conquest, it wasn’t rediscovered until 1545, when scholar Petrus Gyllius was researching Byzantine antiquities in the city and was told by local residents that they were able to miraculously obtain water by lowering buckets into a dark space below their basement floors. Some were even catching fish this way. Intrigued, Gyllius explored the neighbourhood and finally accessed the cistern through one of the basements. Even after his discovery, the Ottomans (who referred to the cistern as Yerebatan Saray) didn’t treat the so-called Underground Palace with the respect it deserved – it became a dumping ground for all sorts of junk, as well as corpses.
The cistern was cleaned and renovated in 1985 by the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality and opened to the public in 1987. It’s now one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. Walking along its raised wooden platforms, you’ll feel the water dripping from the vaulted ceiling and see schools of ghostly carp patrolling the water – it certainly has bucketloads (forgive the pun) of atmosphere.
Read more:

Créditos de este texto:
Cisterna Basílica
La Cisterna Basílica es una de las múltiples cisternas que hay en Estambul. Las cisternas son depósitos que se construyeron para que la ciudad tuviera reservas de agua en caso de ser atacada. Otro nombre (bastante más atractivo) con el se conoce la cisterna es “Palacio Sumergido”.
La Cisterna Basílica fue construida en tiempos de Justiniano I (527-565) para abastecer al Palacio Bizantino. El emplazamiento (al que debe su nombre) fue el subterráneo de una basílica de la que hoy no queda nada.
Para llenar la cisterna se recurría a los acueductos de Valente (aún existente) y de Adriano. Estos acueductos recibían el agua de los Bosques de Belgrado, a unos 20 kilómetros de Constantinopla.
La cisterna de Yerebatan (Yerebatan Sarnıcı, su nombre en turco) tiene unas dimensiones de 140 por 70 metros y se calcula que podía almacenar unos 100.000 m3 de agua.
La Basílica Cisterna tiene 336 columnas de 9 metros de altura. Los estilos de las columnas son muy variados, ya que fueron reutilizadas de antiguas estructuras y monumentos.
El paseo turístico se hace por unas pasarelas que van por encima del agua. Estas pasarelas fueron colocadas a finales del siglo XX, ya que anteriormente el paseo se hacía en barca.
Entre las 336 columnas de la basílica hay dos que tienen como base una cabeza de Medusa, el ser mitológico que convertía en piedra a quien mirara.
Hay diversas teorías sobre que significan esas grandes cabezas en el interior de la cisterna, aunque la teoría más aceptada es que se pusieron ahí por fines prácticos, para ser usadas como base de las columnas.
Nuestra opinión
La Basílica Cisterna es un remanso de tranquilidad en medio de la bulliciosa Estambul: su luz tenue, la música de fondo y el frescor que emana del agua la hacen una visita imprescindible.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.