cafer bozkurt architects renovate ancient theodosius cistern in istanbul

cafer bozkurt architects renovate ancient theodosius cistern in istanbul

theodosius cistern, built during the reign of roman emperor theodosius ii between 428-443, almost 1600 years ago in istanbul, has reopened its doors to the public after eight years of the restoration process with final works by cafer bozkurt architects. the cistern settles on an area of around 45 meters by 25 meters, with a roof supported by 32 marble columns, which were brought from marmara island (ancient prokonnessos) specially for the construction of the cistern. local photographer zeynep yılmaztürk has captured the renovated destination, which now is a museum.

the main façade of theodosius cistern features additional structure from glass and steel to provide a foyer and a space for offices



during the restoration process, all the dirt and soot were cleaned, and the excess amount of water inside was removed. all 32 columns are strengthened by steel rings to avoid any further damages, and steel tie rods are placed to give structural support to the cistern, while there is no additional wall or floor strengthening.

façade detail



missing parts of the domes were completed with similar but distinguishable materials. the missing bricks on the wall are also replaced with similar pieces installed 5 cm deeper to indicate that they are added later. cracks on the walls are filled with hydraulic lime mortar and the capillary cracks in the marble columns are fixed by epoxy injection. all these interventions are totally visible on purpose to give visitors the feeling of discovering the layers.

first foyer of the cistern


the new part of the museum


second foyer of the cistern with a stair going up to the offices


exhibits in the second foyer


inside of the cistern


a contemporary artwork residing near to a marble column


the exposition


the central asis


the columns are made of marble


damages on the columns are kept still and the columns are strengthened by steel rings


project info: 


name: theodosius cistern

architects: cafer bozkurt architects

location: istanbul, turkey

photography: zeynep yılmaztürk


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: maria erman | designboom

  • Excellent ! one more place to visit when we finally go to Istanbul.

    brucelonghurst says:

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