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Basilica Cistern

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Neighborhood:
Sultanahmet
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Address: Imran Oktem Cad. No:4 D:5 Sultanahmet, Fatih | Near St. Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
Phone Number: +90-212 522 12 59
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Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Fee: Yes
Description: The Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns...
The Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns beneath the city that provided a water filtration system for the buildings nearby. This underground chamber measures approximately 138 meters (453 ft) by 64.6 meters (212 ft) and is capable of holding 80,000 cubic meters (2,800,000 cu ft) of water. The ceiling is supported by 336 marble columns.
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A window to the past

It's like peering back through time. The beautifully crafted atmosphere takes advantage of the original architecture of this ancient site. Don't leave it off the itinerary.

5 of 5 starsReviewed July 28, 2015
Adam P
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English first
Level Contributor
20 reviews
12 attraction reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2015 NEW

It's like peering back through time. The beautifully crafted atmosphere takes advantage of the original architecture of this ancient site. Don't leave it off the itinerary.

Was this review helpful? Yes
Syracuse, New York
Level Contributor
179 reviews
53 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2015 NEW

Tour is fascinating part of Istanbul's history. Lines can be long. Can skip the line if you are with a tour guide. Inside is dark and damp (was a welcome reprieve from the July sun).

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
56 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2015 NEW

Interesting Roman area structure to capture and keep a pure and safe water source. Use of various materials show Roman's utilitarian view of the cistern and ability to build aqueducts and roads. Near Ayasofia.

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Muncie, Indiana
Level Contributor
102 reviews
36 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2015 NEW

Indeed this is worth a visit. The lighting is not so good, but it is very impressive. I would rate it as a must see in Istanbul. Go early in the morning before the lines get too long and the crowd too great to enjoy the site. It was sort of crowded when we were there but the line to... More 

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yorkshire
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47 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2015 NEW

An unexpected delight. I had not heard of this Byzantine miracle of engineering before but then I think it was only opened up again in recent years. Go and marvel at this underground structure, also be appalled at the tales of the slaves that helped build it.

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Sydney, Australia
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2015 NEW

Incredible underworld and history in the Cistern. Beware the photo 'booth' with the turkish dress ups. It's a blatant money spinner for the company - touristy fun but a bit trashy in such an historic place.

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Atlanta
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16 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2015 NEW

If you are willing to pay the entrance fee, it is worth a walk-through to see this amazing aqueduct right under the city. Very spooky but beautiful at the same time. With that said, it doesn't take long to see.

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Level Contributor
32 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2015 NEW

It is very interesting to learn the history of public water in Istanbul. Go with a tour guide. Also, there is an incredibly fun photo opportunity at the entrance. The men dress up as sultans and the women dress up as the harem. Our group of 8 had an incredible amount of fun, and it was only $10 per picture.

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Los Angeles, California
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30 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2015 NEW

It is really a bunch of columns in the underground water reservoir. Plus two Roman stone medusa heads. However, it creates a cool atmosphere and colors so if you like photography, you'll probably get some cool shots out of it. And if you are a history buff, you will probably appreciate the age and story of the place.

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California
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12 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2015 NEW

This is my favorite sight in Istanbul. It never fails to thrill me with it's grandeur and mystery. The experience of seeing this cistern is almost indescribable. It is dim and beautifully lit with golden light, and they play classical music which echoes away in the darkness. The pillars and columns, arches and vaults are beautifully symmetrical on the whole,... More 

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Additional Information about Basilica Cistern

Address: Imran Oktem Cad. No:4 D:5 Sultanahmet, Fatih | Near St. Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
Phone Number: +90-212 522 12 59
Location: Europe  >  Turkey  >  Istanbul>  > Sultanahmet

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Staying in Sultanahmet

Neighborhood Profile
Sultanahmet
With so many unmissable attractions within a mere stroll of each other – and all set around the site of an ancient Byzantine hippodrome – Sultanahmet is an overwhelmingly popular tourist destination, and a prime location for visitors to be wowed on a truly epic scale. Beyond the wonders of the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and more, this relatively small area of Istanbul somehow manages to retain an air of peace and calm. It offers visitors a significantly less celebrated but nonetheless pleasant network of quaint lanes and side streets, majestic panoramas of the Bosphorus, and an impressive assortment of accommodation options for all budgets and tastes.
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