Cistern of Philoxenos

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File:Cistern of Philoxenos.JPG
Interior of the cistern

The Cistern of Philoxenos (Template:Lang-el), or Binbirdirek Cistern, is a man-made subterranean reservoir in Istanbul, situated between the Forum of Constantine and the Hippodrome of Constantinople in the Sultanahmet district. It has been restored and is now visited as a tourist attraction. The entrance is located at ?mran Öktem Sokak 4.


File:Cistern of Philoxenos Column Height.JPG
Cistern of Philoxenos: an excavated pool showing the original height of the double columns
The cistern was constructed under a palace, often identified as the Palace of Antiochos in the 5th century. <ref name=mw28081>Müller-Wiener (1977), p. 280-81</ref>

The reservoir has a surface area of 3640 m2, storing 40,000 m3 of water. <ref name=mw28081/> The cistern is composed of a large hypostyle chamber supported by vaults. <ref name=mw28081/> The 224 columns, each 14 to 15 meters tall, are made of marble from nearby Marmara Island. Each column is a superposition of two columns, joined by a marble ring. The floor of the cistern was later reinforced, so that only the upper column and a short sleeve of the lower column are thus visible. The original height can be seen in an escavated pond with four columns in the middle of the cistern. Most of the columns, and also the caps, are engraved with a Greek mason's mark. <ref name=mw28081/>


The cistern was restored by Justinian I in the 6th century, after the palace was completely destroyed in a fire in 475. After the conquest of the city by the Ottomans in 1453, the cistern fell into disuse, and was forgotten until rediscovered during the construction of Fazli Pasha's palace on the same site in the 17th century. <ref name=mw28081/>

1001 columns

The name Binbirdirek translates from Turkish as "1001 Columns" although the true number is only 224.




  • Alexander Kazhdan (éd.), The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, 3 vols., Oxford University Press, 1991 (ISBN 0-19-504652-8), s. v. Constantinople, Monuments of : Cisterns, vol. 1, 518-519 ;
  • Template:Cite book

See also

  • List of Roman cisterns

Template:Public spaces of Constantinople Template:Commons category