Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul: Hours, Address, Basilica Cistern Reviews: 4.5/5

Basilica Cistern
4.5
Historic Sites • Ancient Ruins • Architectural Buildings
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9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Monday
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Tuesday
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Wednesday
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Thursday
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Friday
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Saturday
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Sunday
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
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About
Temporarily Closed. 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.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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The area
Address
Neighborhood: 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.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

4.5
31,298 reviews
Excellent
19,825
Very good
8,148
Average
2,596
Poor
497
Terrible
232

Mike X
Chicago, IL1,876 contributions
Nov 2020 • Couples
Make sure your camera has a night mode or flash because it is dark up in this joint. 30 TL is a bit much for what you get but if you've never seen an underground cistern, you can check this off your bucket list. The Theodosius Cistern isn't far away and is actually lit (literally).
Written November 4, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ana M
Miami Beach, FL12 contributions
Nov 2020
Located at 150 metres of southwest of the Hagia Sophia.
The cistern is a must see. The columns and the lights transport you to another time.
The museum pass does not cover the entry. You must pay 50 tl per person and when you go down they take your temperature as a precaution for Covid 19.
Written December 4, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Priscilla
Plovdiv, Bulgaria46 contributions
Dec 2019 • Couples
The prices were quite reasonable for the Basilica and the cisterns were well-lit enough to take some good photographs and see all the special structures and statues. It can get pretty crowded but overall, well organised and a pleasant visit. If anything, some more information cards for those travelling without a guide would have been useful. Also a must see for Assassin’s Creed fans
Written February 28, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Margaret O
Dublin, Ireland50 contributions
Apr 2022
Advertised as closed everywhere you go but when we passed by on our way to the Blue Mosque recently it was open with queues outside. Tours are every hour, after getting our tickets we were lead down steps to the Cisterns, very dark with a lot of electrical equipment scattered around which we were to find out was for the light show. After a few minutes, music and an impressive light show started and then we were lead back upstairs and outside. Feel I missed something and not sure what what to make of the place. While we were down in the cisterns, it was too dark to see anything and appreciate what the place was about.
Written April 13, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

sam
Iran149 contributions
Oct 2021
Basilica Reservoir is 140 meters long and 70 meters wide. To go to this reservoir, we have to go 52 steps below the ground. This water tank has 336 large columns and each of these columns is 9 meters high. The distance between these columns is 4.80 meters and 12 rows of these columns are located in the basilica reservoir. Each reef has a total of 28 columns. Many of the columns used in this reservoir seem to have been brought to this place from old buildings, and its marbles are of different types of this stone. The heads of these columns have different characteristics in some of them. Ninety-eight of these columns have a style called Corinthian, and others evoke the Dorin style. These reservoirs have 4.80 meters long brick walls. The floor of the basilica reservoir is paved with brick and covered with brick mortar. The water reservoir has a water storage capacity of about 100,000 tons and its total area reaches 9800 square meters.
Written February 12, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

tibby2016
Mumbai, India20 contributions
Mar 2020 • Family
Great piece of engineering. An underground water system that can hold water for an entire city in the olden days. However lots of renovation work going on - so u don’t get more than 5-10 mins to see the entire place. Inspite of collecting entrance fees surprising that the monuments r in such a state. Tourists can skip it
Written March 5, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

dave c
Toronto, Canada460 contributions
Aug 2019

In August of 2019 we visited Istanbul Turkey and for a week, It was an amazing week that we will remember forever.We stayed at the Yasmak Sultan Hotel and the Concierge arranged for us to have a one on one.walking tour guide named UMAR, to give us an all day tour. When you have a tour guide you do not have to wait in any lineup (and they are huge), at any attraction he takes you to. One of the attractions we toured was the Basilica Cisterns (an ancient giant well caverns below the city streets of Istanbul). In ancient times the aqua ducts fed this Cistern with water for drinking,bathing, washing etc. All of which were supported by giant columns that were probably 35 to 40feet tall. When you are on the floor of the Cistern, you can look up and see the holes in the ceiling that was where the wells on the above ground would be and where you would drop your bucket in to get water. At the bottom of some of the giant pillars, they had the carved face of Medusa and her hair of snakes from Greek Mythology. As legend had it, if you looked directly at Medusa, you would turn to stone, so they used those facial carving blocks of Medusa at the bottom of the Cisterns to support the pillars where no one would ever see her face. In this Cistern they had people dressed in period costumes on a stage (The Sultan, His Queen etc), that you could speak with. It was really well done. , We paid 20 Turkish Lira each to do the tour. I would highly recommend this tour.

Dave C
Toronto Canada..
Written February 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Rohit Gupta
New Delhi, India213 contributions
Jul 2021
It lies in the prominent peninsula that is also home to Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Built by the infamous Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the year 542, the structure was used to meet the water needs of the palaces. The Basilica Cistern is a famous historical site that brings millions of tourists every year.
Written November 23, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

LyleCanada
Sudbury, Canada5 contributions
Feb 2020
This is how the city survived so many conflicts. the massive city walls were defensive but a source of fresh water is what made them impregnable. you need to see this in order to appreciate the city's history.I suggest before visiting check out city Of God by SJA Turney. It brings home the siege mentality under which the city lived.
Istanbul/constantinople One of the worlds greatest cities.
Written January 25, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

THOMASFROMDAMASCUS
Damascus, Syria3,355 contributions
Oct 2020
The Basilica Cistern is usually not mentioned in too many tours of Istanbul and this is very sad as the Cistern is a great site to visit. I first discovered the Basilica Cistern in 1972 while free camping in Europe. Back then it had contained water and they had the music of the Gregorian Chant playing in the background.
Today, unfortunately the cistern is dry so some of the natural beauty is gone, but it is still worth the visit.
Knowing the history of this important archeological site is important and they have provided informative sign boards throughout the Basilica Cistern.
There are over 330 marble columns throughout this Basilica Cistern, making it the largest of all Istanbul cisterns.
I suggest one takes their time and make sure you see the: “Column of Tears” or also called: “Crying Column” as it was dedicated to the many slaves that lost lives in the construction of this largest cistern.in all of Istanbul. Also, you must walk to the very end and see the inverted “Heads of Medusa”. They were upside-down in order to save all onlookers from being gorgonized.
Trust me it is well worth the visit, you will not be disappointed….
Written October 18, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern is open:
  • Sun - Sat 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
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