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Binbirdirek Cistern or Sarnici Istanbul

Binbirdirek Cistern or Sarnici Istanbul
Binbirdirek Cistern or Cistern of 1001 Columns is Istanbul’s second largest cistern after the Basilica Cistern and the entrance can be found off Imran Oktem Road.


It is said to have began its construction on order of a Roman senator named Philoxenus at the time of Constantine the Great but most of it dates from the 5th and 6th centuries. There are only 224 columns inside and its name possibly derived from a corruption of the word ‘bindirme direk’ that referred to constructing the pillars by placing large pieces of column on top of each other. 

The Legend

The cistern also has a legend of a 17th century woman, Cevahirli Hanım Sultan, ordering her beautiful servant Tayyarzade to entice men into her gambling den where Cevahirli would murder them and throw them into the cistern. In 1860 Mark Twain wrote in his travel book “Innocents Abroad” that he witnessed silk spinners working inside the cistern and unfortunately it later became a rubbish dump with the holes in the domes being made larger to make it easier for people to drop garbage in and before its restoration over 7,000 truckloads of rubbish had to be removed.

Binbirdirek Cistern Today

Today, the cistern is a museum, but it is also serving as a venue for weddings and company meetings.


Situated in Binbirdirek district of Fatih .

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