02 January Saturday

Renovation Work for Basilica Cistern to Start After Official Ruling

The Cultural Heritage Preservation Board has approved a structural strengthening plan for the Basilica Cistern presented by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) 66 days ago.

“When the formal decision is delivered to us, we will start the renovation process in the Basilica Cistern,” said Mr. Mahir Polat, secretary-general of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM).

According to Mr. Polat, bureaucratic work lasted for more than two months. The municipality sent the plan to the board showing the risk of collapse of one of Istanbul’s landmarks.

On Dec. 9, 2020, the board decided to make a field survey, however, “wanted a new scientific committee report six days later.”

“We reacted to the late decision,” said Mr. Polat, adding that the board “verbally” accepted the plan lately.

“We waited 66 days for the plan to be ratified. It is gratifying to know that a positive decision has been made,” added Mr. Polat.

The official highlighted that the work inside the Basilica Cistern will start as soon as the municipality have the board’s ruling.

Basilica Cistern, one of the magnificent ancient buildings in Istanbul, is located in the southwest of Hagia Sofia. Constructed for the Byzantium Emperor Justinianus I (527-565), this big underground water reservoir is called the “Yerebatan Cistern” among the public. The cistern is 140 meters long, and 70 meters wide, and covers a rectangular area as a giant structure. Accessible with its 52-step staircase, the Cistern shelters 336 columns, each of which is 9-meter-high.

Covering a 9,800-square-meter area in total, the cistern has an estimated water storage capacity of 100,000 tons.

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