We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Basilica Cistern

Travelers' Choice award winner
Ancient ruins, Sights & Landmarks
As featured in One Day in Istanbul and 3 other guides
Improve this listing
Map
Satellite
Map updates are paused. Zoom in to see updated info.
Reset zoom
Updating Map...
Your filters are still active.
There are no pins in your viewport. Try moving the map or changing your filters.
Sponsored by:
Get directions
Address: Imran Oktem Cad. No:4 D:5 Sultanahmet, Fatih | Near St. Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
Phone Number: +90-212 522 12 59
Website
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.
read more
Book ahead on Viator
Special Offer
$295*
and up
Istanbul Super Saver: 2-Day Troy and Gallipoli Tour plus...
Private Tour
$113*
and up
Private Tour: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour including...

TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 12,876 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 8629
    Excellent
  • 3384
    Very good
  • 737
    Average
  • 98
    Poor
  • 28
    Terrible
Most recent review
Most unusual tourist attraction

There are hundreds of ancient cisterns hidden underneath the streets and houses of Istanbul. Of the two that are open to the public, the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı) is... read more

3 of 5 starsReviewed March 4, 2015
ImageCircus
,
Utrecht Province, The Netherlands
Add Photo Write a Review

12,876 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

Date | Rating
  • Arabic first
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Czech first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Greek first
  • Hungarian first
  • Indonesian first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Norwegian first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Slovak first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Thai first
  • Turkish first
  • Any
English first
Utrecht Province, The Netherlands
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
6 attraction reviews
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2015 NEW

There are hundreds of ancient cisterns hidden underneath the streets and houses of Istanbul. Of the two that are open to the public, the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıcı) is the largest and Istanbul’s most unusual tourist attraction. Contrary to James Bond, who had to row his way through Istanbul underground cistern in From Russia with Love, you can take a... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes
cheltenham
Top Contributor
81 reviews 81 reviews
15 attraction reviews
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2015 NEW

I enjoyed the cisterns more than the visits to Agia Sophia and Topkapi. Last year I saw the Roman a Baths in a Bath, England, and there are some similarities in construction. The mood here is quite cleverly conveyed by faint music and subdued lighting. It only takes 20 minutes to walk round it and is worth the entrance fee... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes
Nottingham, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
7 attraction reviews
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2015 NEW

A pleasant surprise. Calm and cool and quiet and a real testament to how to build spectacular and enduring municipal buildings

Was this review helpful? Yes
Dublin
Top Contributor
90 reviews 90 reviews
58 attraction reviews
72 helpful votes 72 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2015 NEW

Having seen it, I suppose I wouldn’t say that the Basilica Cistern would be in my top ‘must see’ recommendations to someone visiting Istanbul. Yes, the lighting is atmospheric and you do have to marvel at the abilities of the ancient Romans to build such a structure - some of the columns are amazing and the ‘star attraction’ for most... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes
llangollen wales
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
5 attraction reviews
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2015 NEW

Visited here several times through the years. It does have a bit of magic. Helped me feel closer to all the eras that the columns in the cistern represent. At times it has been very crowded, but shut the crowds out. Have visited when they were playing soft music which echoed through the space in there. They may have resumed... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes
London, United Kingdom
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
5 attraction reviews
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2015 NEW via mobile

Walking in and seeing the dimly lit cistern took me by surprise. The outside is very small and can be easily missed if it weren't for the small queue of people waiting to enter. It's a very short walking distance from the blue mosque and haghia sophia so worth popping into. May be worthwhile to get an audio walking tour... More 

Was this review helpful? Yes
Szczecin, Poland
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 attraction reviews
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2015 NEW

This was one of the nicest places I visited. I really liked it because it was so different from everything I`ve seen before. It`s one of those places you cannot forget.

Was this review helpful? Yes
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
10 attraction reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2015 NEW

The basilica cistern is a very interesting attraction. I particularly liked the colums with the Medusa head carvings. This is a good all weather place to visit.

Was this review helpful? Yes
Mumbai (Bombay), India
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
6 attraction reviews
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2015 NEW

I visited this place after going to Hagiasofia and blue mosque.....not that great. Of course, it is an architecture marvel considering it is so old but nothing great. The roofs were leaking and it was quite slippery....better avoided if you are with kids

Was this review helpful? Yes
Melbourne
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
12 attraction reviews
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 2, 2015 NEW

Whilst you can marvel at the engineering and construction to build this underground storage the only real exhibit is the Medussa Head corner stones and the theories as to why they are positioned sideways and upside down. Other than that seen one Roman Column seen them all. I suppose I should have used the Audioguide to get a clearer understanding.

Was this review helpful? Yes

Travelers who viewed Basilica Cistern also viewed

 

Been to Basilica Cistern? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Register now for free — and start getting automatic notification of new reviews, responding to traveler feedback, adding new photos to your listing and much more.

Manage your listing

Questions & Answers

Here's what previous visitors have asked, with answers from representatives of Basilica Cistern and other visitors
6 questions
Ask a question
Calgary, Canada
1 month ago
London
1 day ago
2 months ago

See all questions (6)

Questions? Get answers from Basilica Cistern staff and past visitors.
Posting guidelines
Typical questions asked:
  • Do I have to buy a ticket for my infant?
  • How do I get there using public transportation?
  • Is there a restaurant or café onsite?