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Cistern of Philoxenos

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Title: Cistern of Philoxenos  
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Subject: Valens Aqueduct, Piscina Mirabilis, Mese (Constantinople), Palace of Blachernae, Placidia Palace
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Cistern of Philoxenos

Interior of the cistern

The Cistern of Philoxenos (Greek: Κινστέρνα Φιλοξένου), 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 İmran Öktem Sokak 4. Binbirdirek Cistern is the second largest cistern in Istanbul after the Basilica Cistern.[1]


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. [2]

The reservoir has a surface area of 3640 m2, storing 40,000 m3 of water. [2] The cistern is composed of a large hypostyle chamber supported by vaults. [2] 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 excavated 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. [2]


The cistern was restored by Fazli Pasha's palace on the same site in the 17th century. [2]

1001 columns

The name Binbirdirek translates from Turkish as "1001 Columns" although the true number is only 224. The difference is due to the Turkish expression, "binbir" (i.e. 1001), being a turn of phrase that is often used to express something that is numerous and varied. An example of this is the expression "binbir zahmetle", which literally translates to "with a thousand and one toils", meaning "with many difficulties". As such, the cistern's name is intended to be evocative rather than scientific.

See also


  1. ^ Binbirdirek Cistern Istanbul
  2. ^ a b c d e Müller-Wiener (1977), p. 280-81


  • 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 ;

See also

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