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Posts tagged ‘Basilica Cistern’

Urban Aqueduct in Istanbul

Byzantine Valens Aqueduct, Istanbul Turkey

Valens Aqueduct running through Istanbul (Photo: Daydream Tourist)

Last week I wrote about the incredible Basilica Cistern in the heart of the Sultanahmet, or historic center, of Istanbul.  All the water needed to fill that and other cisterns in Constantinople was brought in through an extensive aqueduct network which partially survives today.  The most significant portion is the Valens Aqueduct constructed by Emporer Valens in the 4th century AD.  It is about 95 feet high with about a 13 foot arch span which now allows cars to drive through the Byzantine aqueduct.

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Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

Basilica Cistern entrance view, Istanbul (Photo: Daydream Tourist)

How does a city surrounded by the ocean get enough fresh water to support a population of nearly half a million people?  The answer for Byzantine Emperors Constantine and Justinian I was a 19km aqueduct that emptied into a massive reservoir beneath Constantinople.  Today you can visit the Basilica Cistern; the entrance is about a block away from the Hagia Sophia.  The cavernous pool is cool, dimly lit and a quiet retreat from the tourist commotion above.  I thought it was incredibly beautiful and peaceful and spent about an hour very slowly wandering through it.

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