Istanbul, Basilica Cistern

Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern is in danger of collapse

During restoration works on the historic monument, one of the most visited by tourists, serious flaws have been discovered in the structure.

Istanbul‘s famous Basilica Cistern, built in 542 AD by Emperor Justinian I and one of the most visited historical monuments in the Turkish metropolis, is in serious danger of collapse, according to experts from the city’s metropolitan city council, who have raised the alarm about the risk of collapse that suffers the ancient structure in the event of an earthquake.

Oktay Özel, head of the Department of Cultural Property of the Istanbul Metropolitan City Council (İBB), warned on Thursday in statements to the media that the restoration works started on the monument four years ago has revealed that the structure is at serious risk of collapsing at any time.

We cannot wait a single second (to reinforce the structure). We have examined the iron bearings that join the columns and that replaced the original wooden ones, and we have discovered gaps between them. The bearings were placed during the previous restoration, in the first years of the Republic, but over time they have corroded, “said Özel.

According to this expert, authorities have already been alerted to proceed to reinforce the structure as soon as possible. “It is difficult to apply reinforcements in historical sites without damaging them, and we have limited freedom of movement,” acknowledged Özel, who nevertheless warns that the danger of collapse is not limited to the Basilica Cistern, but to all buildings built over the structure. “This place is very frequented by tourists and there are several public and private buildings. We have to guarantee their safety as soon as possible,” he alerts.