Istanbul's Basilica Cistern Reopened After Restoration

Yüksel Güngörmüş

Restoration works carried out by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Heritage teams strengthened the city's largest closed cistern against a possible Istanbul earthquake and brought the new generation museology approach to life in a unique structure.

Within the scope of the restoration works, the existing reinforced concrete walkway with a height of 2 meters, which created a negative effect on the Basilica Cistern, was also removed. Instead of this concrete road, a lighter walkway platform made of modular steel material, compatible with the identity of the building, was prepared.

The new walkway shortens the distance between the cistern and the audience, making you feel the depth of the building; offering the opportunity to experience its imposing height; It promises visitors a viewing pleasure integrated with columns, ground, and water.

One of the prominent interventions in the restoration was the cleaning of the late-period cement floors, which reached a height of 50 cm from the floor of the cistern. In this way, visitors can see 1500-year-old brick pavements for the first time.

One thousand 440 cubic meters of cement mortar, which damaged the original texture of the building throughout the museum, was also removed from the cistern with meticulous work.

In order to preserve the mystical atmosphere of the historical area and make its characteristic features visible, a dynamic lighting design that can be integrated with cultural and artistic activities was applied.