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The 1001 Columns Cistern, also called the ‘Philoxenus Cistern’ or ‘Binbirdirek Cistern’ in Turkish, is the oldest known cistern in Istanbul.
Thought to have been constructed in 330 AD by the Roman Senator Philoxenus during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine, its original purpose was to serve the Lavsus Palace. Later it was converted into a silk manufacturing warehouse during Ottoman times until falling into disrepair and becoming a garbage dump for a long period.
Closed for many years, the Cistern, located near to the popularly visited Basilica Cistern in Sultanahmet, was recently renovated and reopened with a restaurant, cafes, bar and a wine house. It is also a popular place to enjoy nargile.
Despite its name, the origin of which is unclear, the 1001 Columns Cistern actually has 224 marble columns. Each column is in fact made of two columns joined together by a ring clamp.