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Basilica Cistern

Alemdar Mahallesi, Yerebatan Caddesi, No:1/3, Istanbul 34410, Turkey
+90 212 512 15 70
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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.
  • Excellent67%
  • Very good25%
  • Average6%
  • Poor1%
  • Terrible1%
Travelers talk about
“medusa heads” (1,207 reviews)
“fish swimming” (203 reviews)
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All hours
Hours Today: 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours
Alemdar Mahallesi, Yerebatan Caddesi, No:1/3, Istanbul 34410, Turkey
+90 212 512 15 70
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Reviews (25,594)
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5,931 - 5,940 of 13,242 reviews

Reviewed April 26, 2015

before or after visit the aghia sofia church museum you can go to royal kinsterna..and watch the two medusa heads and also the huge byzantine architecture with columns and visiting hours are 10 to 5 as far as i remember.

Thank Michael A
Reviewed April 26, 2015

Amazing underground Cisterns with a LOT of history and a fantastic show of light in the columns reflecting in the water and all over, a little cold down there, no bathrooms there either but warrantied worth the money paid to enter. Felt it was romantic...More

Thank Galantini646
Reviewed April 26, 2015

We all loved it - fascinating, historical atmospheric, amazing place to visit - a definite must see if you are in Istanbul!

Thank alison g
Reviewed April 26, 2015

There is no way you can get a feeling for the immensity of this cistern without visiting it. We visited toward the end of the day 4 PM or so and the crowds were manageable. Both my husband and I felt a bit queasy as...More

1  Thank BetsyGite
Reviewed April 26, 2015

It truly is a marvel and possibly even more so if we had opted for a guided tour, but we were happy to explore on our own and thoroughly enjoyed our experience.

2  Thank LilPikit
Reviewed April 25, 2015

Perhaps one of the only attractions of Istanbul which is not overrated (like mosques , Topkapi or Istiklal ) . Evidence of Roman ingenuity , columns and ceiling underground, water giants carp , diffused light ...

Thank gabivaduva74
Reviewed April 25, 2015

You would never know it from the surface, but this really is an amazing site, especially if you are into Byzantine history and architecture. The underground cistern is huge, and eerily beautiful with the variety of columns and lighting. While the "star attractions" underground are...More

1  Thank GrellisSanPedro_CA
Reviewed April 25, 2015

Normally, I wouldn't be so excited about a cistern... but this was a beautiful site. Knowing that these ancient columns allowed this space to hold thousands of tons (I think that's what the audio tour said?) of water to be held is really something. There...More

Thank Yogacoffee
Reviewed April 25, 2015

Surprising, quick adventure into a magical world of darkness and water. The whole thing doesn't take more than 30-45 minutes - but beware occasional long lines, especially around 5PM in the seasn when the other standard tours end...

Thank danpoenaru
Reviewed April 25, 2015 via mobile

We went into the cistern during our visit to Istanbul and it ended up being our favorite attraction. It's absolutely breathtaking to view and imagine the work that went in to building it. The way the columns are lit gives a nice intimate feeling. Be...More

Thank Andrew N
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
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Questions & Answers
September 15, 2017|
AnswerShow all 6 answers
Response from Erica F | Reviewed this property |
Unfortunately, I don't believe there are any concerts in the Cistern, but Hagia Irene near Hagia Sophia seems to have concerts on a regular basis and is just gorgeous!
Imra-atu Y
June 4, 2017|
AnswerShow all 2 answers
Response from bas t | Reviewed this property |
same as the previous answer about 20 turkish lire
April 14, 2017|
AnswerShow all 9 answers
Response from ahjahanshir | Reviewed this property |
No. you cannot. Museum pass is basically for the museums, and basilica cistern is not a museum.