Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul. Commissioned by Emperor Justinian and built in 532, it is largest surviving Byzantine cistern in Istanbul. Basilica Cistern is located in Sultanahmet to the southwest of Hagia Sophia. It was constructed using 336 columns, many reclaimed from ruined temples, featuring fine carved capitals. Two Medusa heads, used as column supports, are located in northwest corner of the cistern. Originally located under the Stoa Basilica, the cistern was designed to service the Great Palace and surrounding buildings with fresh water. The cistern was fed by 20 kilometers of aqueducts from a reservoir near the Black Sea.
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