The Basilica Cistern (Turkish: 'Yerebatan Sarayı' or 'Yerebatan Sarnıcı') is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that still lie beneath the city of Istanbul. The cistern, located in the historical peninsula of Istanbul next to the Hagia Sophia, was built during the reign of emperor Justinian I in the 6th century, the age of glory of Eastern Rome, also called the Byzantine Empire.This underground structure was known as the “Basilica Cistern” as its was built underneath the Stoa Basilica, a large public square on the First Hill of Constantinople. According to ancient historians, Emperor Constantine had already constructed a structure, which was rebuilt and enlarged by Emperor Justinian after the Nika riots of 532. It provided water for the Great Palace of Constantinople and other buildings on the First Hill, and continued to provide water to the Topkapi Palace after the Ottoman conquest in 1453 and into modern times.
© Jonathan Valin