Istanbul's water supply system is pretty unique. The existing water supply system and three additional dams and lakes erected nearby now supply water to the densely populated metropolis. Massive reservoirs augment the networks of canals and aqueducts used to deliver water from dams and cisterns created at every opportune site.

In the past, however, water was provided by three big cisterns from which it was transferred to the city's historic fountains. When these massive reservoirs became obsolete, they were converted into vegetable gardens. The smallest of these reservoirs, near Edirnekapi, was named 'Aetius' and measured 244 by 85 meters. It is now used as a stadium. Cukurbostan (the Sunken Garden), located near the Sultan Selim Mosque, measures 152 square meters on each side. The Hagios Makioe Reservoir measures 170 meters by 147 meters and is 15 meters deep. 

Historical Fountains in Istanbul

Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III in Sultanahmet

It is a lovely baroque-style historical fountain that was erected in 1728 and is located in front of the Topkapi Palace Imperial Gate.

German Fountain in Sultanahmet

The German Fountain, commonly known as the "Fountain of Kaiser Wilhelm II," is a magnificent fountain between Sultanahmet Square and the Blue Mosque. It has beautiful architecture with columns and a lovely dome.

Tophane Fountain in Tophane

The Tophane Fountain is a lovely baroque-style historical fountain located in Tophane, near Galata and Karakoy, between the Kilic Ali Pasa and Nusretiye Mosques. It was established in 1732 by Sultan Mahmut I and features beautiful architecture with marble walls adorned with flowers.

Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III in Uskudar

The Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III, which was created in 1728, is a wonderful historical structure. The Fountain's four sides are all covered with verses, some of which belong to Sultan Ahmed III.

Cisterns in Istanbul

Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern, which Emperor Justinian built in 532, is also known as the Basilica Cistern because it is located under the Stoa Basilica. The cistern is a giant structure covering a rectangular area of 140 meters in length and 70 meters in width. There are 336 columns inside the cistern, each 9 meters high, which is descended by a 52-step stone staircase. These columns, erected at intervals of 4.80 meters from each other, form 28 rows of 12 each row.

These pillars rising in the water remind them of a vast forest and impress visitors as soon as they enter the cistern. The ceiling weight of the cistern was transferred to the columns by means of round cruciform vaults and arches. Most of the columns, most of which are understood to have been collected from older structures and carved from the granite of various types of marble, consist of one piece, and some of them are two pieces on top of each other. 

The headings of these columns have different features from place to place. While 98 of them reflect the Corinthian style, some reflect the Doric style. The brick-built, 4.80-meter-thick walls and brick-tiled floor of the cistern were plastered with a thick layer of Horasan mortar and made watertight. This cistern, which has 9,800 square meters, has a water storage capacity of approximately 100 thousand tons.

The two Medusa heads used as pedestals under the two columns in the northwest corner of the cistern are among the masterpieces of Roman sculpture art. Although there is no certain information about which building these heads from the 19th century were brought here, it is thought that they were brought here after being dismantled from an ancient structure belonging to the Young Roman Age. Those who came to visit the cistern watched in amazement.

Bozdogan (Valens) Aqueduct in Vefa

The Bozdogan Aqueduct, a kilometer-long aqueduct erected in 375 by the Roman Emperor Valen, provides a stunning feature of the region's scenery. Its purpose was to transport water to the city

Frequently Asked Question

What are things to do in İstanbul?
One of the most amusing things to do in Istanbul is to visit historical places such as cisterns and fountains. Fountains that must be seen in Istanbul are the Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III, German Fountain, Tophane Fountain, and Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III. The must-see cisterns in Istanbul are Basilica Cistern and Bozdogan (Valens) Aqueduct.
How to get to Basilica Cistern?
Getting to the Basilica Cistern is extremely easy. You can go to the Basilica Cistern, which is in a central location, by using the Kabataş – Bağcılar tram line. After getting off the Sultanahmet stop, you can reach the cistern with a 3-minute walk. Suppose you want to visit the Basilica Cistern from the Anatolian Side. In that case, you can visit the cistern by taking the ferry to Beşiktaş or Kabataş and getting off at Sultanahmet by tram.