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JoseFSandoval October 04, 2015
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Basilica Cistern

The name of this subterranean structure derives from a large public square on the First Hill of Constantinople, the Stoa Basilica,...
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Basilica Cistern

The name of this subterranean structure derives from a large public square on the First Hill of Constantinople, the Stoa Basilica, beneath which it was originally constructed. Before being converted to a cistern, a great Basilica stood in its place, built between the 3rd and 4th centuries during the Early Roman Age as a commercial, legal and artistic centre.[1] The basilica was reconstructed by Illus after a fire in 476.
Ancient texts indicated that the basilica contained gardens, surrounded by a colonnade and facing the Hagia Sophia.[1] According to ancient historians, EmperorConstantine built a structure that was later rebuilt and enlarged by Emperor Justinian after the Nika riots of 532, which devastated the city.
Historical texts claim that 7,000 slaves were involved in the construction of the cistern.
The enlarged cistern provided a water filtration system for the Great Palace of Constantinople and other buildings on the First Hill, and continued to provide water to theTopkapi Palace after the Ottoman conquest in 1453 and into modern times.

Medusa head pillar
Located in the northwest corner of the cistern, the bases of two columns reuse blocks carved with the visage of Medusa. The origin of the two heads is unknown, though it is thought that the heads were brought to the cistern after being removed from a building of the late Roman period. There is no written evidence that suggests they were used as column pedestals previously. Tradition has it that the blocks are oriented sideways and inverted in order to negate the power of the Gorgons' gaze,[citation needed]however it is widely thought that one was placed sideways only to be the proper size to support the column. The upside down Medusa was placed that way specifically because she would be the same height right side up.[citation needed]

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