Istanbul's Basilica Cistern decaying, restoration 'can't wait another minute'

Istanbul's ancient Basilica Cistern is in urgent need of restoration, which the state's Protection Board has failed to permit for over a month. Recent renovation work on the sixth-century structure revealed that the tension rods are no longer able to support the columns.

Duvar English

Istanbul's ancient Basilica Cistern is in such a state of disrepair that its restoration "can't wait another minute," Istanbul Municipality Assistant Secretary General Mahir Polat said on Dec. 10. 

A restoration project was presented to the Culture and Tourism Ministry's Protection Board as an urgent matter some 47 days ago, but the board failed to issue a ruling as of Dec. 10, Polat said. 

"The Basilica Cistern is facing great risk, we need the board's approval to intervene as soon as possible," Polat added. 

Recent restoration work on the basilica revealed that tension rods used for restoration during the early years of the Turkish republic didn't connect properly, hence they are not supporting the columns effectively. 

"We saw that the tension rods were a mess, that they didn't support the columns. We need to implement the project we proposed to the protection board immediately. The Basilica Cistern can't wait another minute!"

Located next to the Hagia Sophia, the sixth-century Basilica Cistern was built under the Byzantine Empire.