The Byzantine cistern known as Tekir Ambarı is one of the less-known historical attractions of Silifke. Its currently used name literally means "tabby warehouse." Although finding the cistern is a challenge in itself, the structure has impressive dimensions, and its exploration is highly recommended for history-conscious travelers.
In the Byzantine times, Seleucia (as Silifke was then known) had an excellent water supply system. Its heart was a large cistern, carved out of the rock below the local fortress. Water was distributed throughout the lower town by a system of pipes connected to the cistern. Its total water capacity was 12,000 tonnes.
The cistern was erected from regularly cut stone blocks, with eight niches on its longer sides, and five niches of its shorter sides. This design prevented leakages and gave the cistern a monumental look. A spiral staircase at the eastern corner provided access to its bottom.
The description of the cistern was provided by Sir Francis Beaufort. He charted and explored southern coast of Asia Minor, locating many classical ruins. Later he published his discoveries in the book "Karamania; or a brief description of the South Coast of Asia Minor, and of the Remains of Antiquity." He wrote about the Silifke cisterns in these words: Near the catacombs there is an enormous reservoir, hewn out of soft stone; the roof is supported on parallel rows of square pillars and the sides and bottom are covered with very hard stucco, or terras. Its dimensions are 150 feet by 75, and 35 in depth.
The cistern is unguarded, and there is no entrance fee. Be extremely cautious while exploring the structure as there are no barriers to prevent you from falling. Watch out for holes in the ground and glass shards lying around the cistern. The spiral staircase to the bottom is still accessible, but again - act carefully if you want to descent it.
The cistern is clearly visible from the walls of Silifke Castle, but finding it among the maze of narrow streets of the town may be difficult. To locate it start the search at the junction of İnönü Bulvarı and Menderes Caddesi, in the north-western part of Silifke. Then follow the alley known as 348 Sokak and turn left onto Eğitim Sokak. The Byzantine cistern is situated behind a basketball court. The coordinates of the cistern are: 36°22'31.6"N 33°55'16.1" E.