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Basilica Cistern in Constantinople on the verge of collapse

The Byzantine-built Basilica Cistern in Constantinople (Κωνσταντινούπολη, Turkish: İstanbul) is on the verge of collapse due to Turkey’s continued subpar efforts to maintain historical Greek sites.

in the event of an earthquake. The cistern, built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in A.D. 542 to supply water to the palace, is currently under restoration.

Oktay Özel, head of the Department of Cultural Properties at Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, said last week that restoration work revealed the risk.

Basilica Cistern
Basilica Cistern.

“We don’t even have one second to wait to (reinforce the cistern against the risk),” he said.

“We examined the iron bearings connecting columns which replaced the original wooden bearings and discovered gaps between them,” he told Demirören News Agency.

“The bearings were placed during the most recent restoration work in the early years of the republic but they have corroded over time,” he added.

“It is difficult to implement reinforcements on historical places without harming them and we have limited freedom of movement,” he said.

“This is a place frequented by tourists and home to public and private buildings. We have to ensure their safety as soon as possible,” he said.

The Basilica Cistern was built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century to provide water for the Great Palace of Constantinople.

The Cistern is especially known for the two Medusa head columns.

Basilica Cistern Medusa Head Column.
Basilica Cistern Medusa Head Column.

The cistern is located only 150 metres southwest of the Hagia Sophia.

Earlier this year, a part of the Greek-built Byzantine wall on Sulukule Street in the Topkapı neighbourhood of Constantinople fell, as reported by Greek City Times.

Byzantine Wall in Constantinople collapses as Turkey continues to let historical sites go into disrepair 4

It also comes as in the middle of this year the historic Soumela Monastery in Pontus came under intense vandalism despite the site being included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, as also previously reported by Greek City Times.

Icons in Pontian monastery destroyed by Turkish vandals 8