Preparation for the Public: 1985-1987
It took until the Republican period from 1985 to 1987 for the cistern to be thoroughly cleaned and opened for public use. Remaining dirty water, mud, and debris were removed, and the cistern was completely restored. Platforms, pathways, atmospheric lighting and music, and even a café were put in place for tourists, ushering in a new, western, globalized function, coinciding with a modernizing Istanbul.
Today, the cistern is one of the top attractions for tourists. Open everyday starting a 9:00 AM, admission will cost you ten liras. Additionally, it has become a draw for international dignitaries, including President Bill Clinton, and Prime Minister Wim Kok.
While the cistern has undergone a remarkable transformation, its reconstruction and revitalization does not cover up the memory of the site conveyed through historical sources, and the site is a perfect example of a lieu de memoire in that it is a symbolic representation of the history and heritage of Istanbul. As Alois Reigln would say, the cistern carries “age value” through the transcendence of 1500 years of elapsed time, and it acts as an “unintentional monument” since the site no longer has a practical function, and instead acts as a tourist destination, even though it was not planned as such by emperor Justinian. Additionally, the site acts as a palimpsest on the landscape of Istanbul not only through its commemoration of Byzantine and Ottoman times, but it also functions in a new way for the city. Much like the function of the site has changed overtime throughout different rulers and periods, today the city is a modern, globalized city, attracting both tourists and locals alike. Reflecting this changing dynamic in the greater city, it is only fitting that the site likewise has evolved into a landmark tourist hot-spot.
"The Basilica Cistern." The Basilica Cistern. Trans. Irfan Koksal. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2016. http://ibb.gov.tr/sites/ks/en-US/1-Places-To-Go/museum/Pages/basilica-cistern.aspx