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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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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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6,231 - 6,240 of 13,242 reviews

Reviewed March 23, 2015

It's not included in the museum pass and you pay an extra 20 TL for access. It was worth it though. The lighting gives you the feeling of being Lara the Tomb Raider lol.

Thank Bing V
Reviewed March 23, 2015

Found this different to the usual city sights, very atmospheric. The cistern had subtle lighting and some background music playing, we thought they had done very well with this. Was fascinating to think the system was built so long ago. No treasure or mosaics but...More

Thank MrsMinerva
Reviewed March 23, 2015 via mobile

It is a cistern and it has been there a lot of years. That's what you see and nothing more. It is pretty and huge but to me it is nothing to die for. Please, don't rent the audio guide (at least not in Spanish)!...More

Thank Vanessa M
Reviewed March 23, 2015

One of the reasons I had always wanted to come to Istanbul was to visit the Hagia Sofia and the Basilica Cistern. I've read about the amazing accoustics, and ominous red glow, so this was the first local attraction in our calendar upon arrival. We...More

Thank SittingNow
Reviewed March 23, 2015 via mobile

This site was a priority during my Istanbul visit because of the history and the powerful feeling it gives just looking at the pictures. If you want a true experience get there early, it won't take as long as the other historic places (about 30...More

Thank Lontanicus
Reviewed March 23, 2015

For the history lovers is a place to visit. It is wonderful imaging how possible that structure in those times. Also interesting the Medusa head... why is it there in that position ?

Thank CrisChiang
Reviewed March 22, 2015

Large underground cisterns that are beautifully lit and a bit mysterious. I had trouble understanding why we were going to see this ... until I saw it. Fascinating! Very near the Hagia Sophia so don't skip it if you are already in the area. Allow...More

Thank EdsGirlBoston
Reviewed March 22, 2015

It is hard to believe that it was actually build in the 6th century. It is underground and just beautiful. We ended up doing the photo-shoot in costumes that is offered for a reasonable price too and it was great.

Thank U-Choudhry
Reviewed March 22, 2015

A view of the ancient cistern was interesting, though we did have to shell out an extra TL20 despite having a 5-day museum pass. It was weird that the info background regarding the Medusa heads were located nowhere near where they were and could easily...More

1  Thank Kathy P
Reviewed March 22, 2015 via mobile

Look at the pictures and save $10. I'm a nut for museums but this had very little to offer for the money. Lots of slippery, drippy steps and the ever haunting, ubiquitous "tour guides " waiting like vultures beside the line. Blue mosque, aya Sophia...More

3  Thank JimmyLee44
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.