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.

“Not to be missed”
Review of Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern
Book In Advance
More Info
$38.75*
and up
Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and...
Ranked #6 of 1,044 things to do in Istanbul
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: 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.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
59 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“Not to be missed”
Reviewed February 20, 2013

Friends of ours recommended the visit to the cisterns and I must admit to thinking it rather odd.
However, once you start descending the stairs into the dimly-lit interior you begin to appreciate the scale and beauty of this ancient endeavour. The size of the underground system is almost overwhelming and there is a delightful peacefulness just below the immense and bustling city of Istanbul.
A highly recommended visit.

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
Thank Joe H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

24,622 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    16,403
    6,293
    1,632
    218
    76
Date | Rating
  • Arabic first
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Czech first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • Finnish first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Greek first
  • Hebrew first
  • Hungarian first
  • Indonesian first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Korean first
  • Norwegian first
  • Polish first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Serbian first
  • Slovak first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Thai first
  • Turkish first
  • Any
English first
cornwall, england
Level Contributor
181 reviews
42 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 144 helpful votes
“Sounds unattractive, but this is a 'must see' in Istanbul.”
Reviewed February 20, 2013

Although this was a recommended site to visit in the Lonely Planet guide, it just didn't seem attractive or a good use of time to visit a 'cistern'! However, once I spotted the sign I decided it might be worth a look. And we are relay pleased we did. You only need about an hour here, but well worth it. It's just amazing to think that the Roman's built such a fantastic facility to supply water to Istanbul, piping water down from the Belgrade forests. What a feat of engineering. And the gargoyle heads at the base of two of the pillars is a mystery that will never be solved. About £5 per head and certainly recommended.

Visited February 2013
Helpful?
Thank 622billy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Surfers Paradise, Australia
Level Contributor
8 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Extraordinary”
Reviewed February 19, 2013

An extraordinary experience. Especially when you realise it was built 1600 years ago ! The haunting music is so apt.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
Thank Alan M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
34 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“I wasn't expecting that”
Reviewed February 19, 2013

Istanbul Is all about mosques, palaces and 'no thank you' to carpet sellers. No it's not, it's also about what the Romans did for them. The Cistern was a surprise - not only that it exists but also for the sheer size and engineering that it took over 1500 years ago. Well worth the trip. Takes 45 minutes and when we went it was pretty empty so very atmospheric and eerie. Feel sorry for the cafe owner who never sees the light of day and avoid the photographer. Just spend time lookin at the carp and columns.

Visited February 2013
Helpful?
Thank Shelf69
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Falkirk, Scotland
Level Contributor
61 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 93 helpful votes
“The Wow Factor”
Reviewed February 19, 2013

I wasn't sure what to expect from the Basilica Cistern and I was afraid there might be lots of slippery stone steps to negotiate. However, this is one of those attractions which will make your jaw drop and you'll hear yourself saying ''WOW'' out loud! The entrance is unassuming and doesn't prepare you for the sight which assails your senses at the bottom of the steps (not too many steps, not slippery and easy to negotiate).

This is a vast, underground water storage tank with a high brick roof supported by 336 beautiful columns each over 26ft high with carved capitals, some ornate, some fairly plain. Look out for the carved Medusa heads which are mysteriously positioned oddly - one upside down and one on its side. Some massive fish are swimming around in the clear water and there is the constant gentle drip of water falling around you.

It's an impressive feat of engineering and it has fantastic atmosphere. This was my favourite attraction in Istanbul which is saying something when it's in competition with the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, etc.

Visited February 2013
Helpful?
Thank Sian W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing