The Basilica Cistern, or Cisterna Basilica (Turkish: Yerebatan Sarnıcı or Yerebatan Saray, "Subterranean Cistern" or "Subterranean Palace"), is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul, Turkey. The cistern, located 150 metres (490 ft) southwest of the Hagia Sophia on the historical peninsula of Sarayburnu, was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. Today it is kept with little water, for public access inside the space.
This subterranean cistern, in Greek kinsterne (κινστέρνη), was called Basilica because it was located under a large public square on the First Hill of Constantinople, the Stoa Basilica. At this location, and prior to constructing the cistern, a great Basilica stood in its place, built between the 3rd and 4th centuries during the Early Roman Age as a commercial, legal and artistic centre. The basilica was reconstructed by Illus after a fire in 476.
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|Tuesday||9:00 AM – 5:30 PM|
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|Thursday||9:00 AM – 5:30 PM|
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|Saturday||9:00 AM – 5:30 PM|
|Sunday||9:00 AM – 5:30 PM|
Ovgum A. | Dec 19, 2017
Open until 5.30 pm, 5 lira for students, 10lira for Turkish citizens, 20 lira for foreigners. Cannot use museum pass to access. Beautiful cistern from Roman Times. Medusa heads were believed to wars of bad fortune, so they were used for good luck. It is unknown where they were brought from. The weeping column is to commemorate hundreds of slaves who died during the construction of this place. Can easily be seen in half an hour. There is no WC as far as I noticed but I hope this changes.
Nelly Baakliny | Feb 15, 2018
It’s magical - very huge ... we had brochure of this historical site, and it was very helpful. They are still renovating a big part of it- but the part we could visit was astonishing. it’s built all underground approximately 10,000sqm and supported by more than 300 marble columns All this is fascinating to watch.
Hristo Dobrev | Feb 21, 2018
One of the most interesting places in Istanbul. Do not miss it or underestimate it. It's just 2 minutes walking from saint Sofia cathedral and it's definitely worth seeing the cistern.
Mine Yilmaz | Jan 17, 2018
it is great. you feel like you are in the movie. so exciting. Prepare to spend at least 1,5 hours there. I have been there several times and still want to go again
sean mochan | Feb 4, 2018
I had read about the cisterns and also seen them in a james bond movie. I had been told they have been drained and also under renovation. This did not affect the experience as it was a stunning location and a real joy to take it the ancient pillars. I went first thing in the morning to avoid queues and had the place pretty much to myself. Musuem card does not work here but inexpensive so not an issue.
Tamas Turi | Apr 6, 2018
One of my favorite sights in Istanbul. If there are not too many tourists it has a magical atmosphere. The music, the lighting. And so many different columns. Brought together form the whole region approx 1,500 year ago. Amazing. Thai place breaths history. Thousands of years.
Brittney Chui | Apr 7, 2018
Really interesting place to visit. Once a place to store the cities water, now houses art installations as well. It is quite dimly lit and cool as it is underground. This all adds to the atmosphere and mystique of the place. Don't miss the Medusa heads and sneak a peak at the fish in the ponds nearby as well.
ozben a | Mar 31, 2018
even if it is intended to meet the city's water needs, it can be enjoyed with such a beautiful aesthetic.It is pleasant to see the architectural traces of the period. at the same time the dark and mysterious atmosphere has always been impressive for me.if you are lucky, definitely join a concert event here
Muhammed | Mar 20, 2018
Creepy freaking place but so much of wonder, for a water tank. Why is there just one colunm is called the year column for all the slaves that died :-( in the building of the structure and it's completely different to the rest. A must see
Francesco Orfei | May 17, 2018
This is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Turkey. It is a place that you cannot describe appropriately, you must visit it. Each step you make you see columns and columns but the scene is always different. If you like taking pictures bring your tripod, It's a great place for impressive pictures. The temperature inside is not so low as in a cavern, but neither hot, so simply bring a light jacket and that's it.
Mahbub Baset | May 20, 2018
A MUST visit in Turkey. This underground water reservoir is maintained nicely for a time travel. The ancient spot, often called the Sunken Palace can be a film shooting spot and I heard that it was already used in the 1963 James Bond film From Russia with Love. Do not miss to take a picture as Sultan & Sultana wearing their traditional attire along with accessories.
Michael Oon | May 1, 2018
An extraordinary structure that is built before the Ottoman Empire. Presumably it was the source of water for the numerous sieges that Constantinople had and the nearby palaces. Said to be built around 500AD. Going down to the cistern has to be taken carefully as it is quite dark. It can be slippery as there is water splashing about. The Cistern is impressive and definitively worth a visit when in Istanbul.
John Ashworth | Apr 18, 2018
The queue to enter was very short although hundreds of local school children were all piling in! The cistern was much larger than I'd expected and much more impressive, especially considering it was built 1500 years ago. Most of the water seemed to have been drained at the moment but it was still very impressive with the lights at the bottom of the pillars. Great value at 10 TL each.
Mark Davis | Jun 2, 2018
The artistry and detail of this place is amazing. Well worth a visit. Some is closed for restoration but the scale and grandeur of the place still comes. Particularly check out the roman medusa heads used at the base of some of the columns. The weeping column is full of subtle shades and colours, and supposed to look like it is crying. From the right angles the lines of columns almost seem to stretch out for ever.
Mark Wellman | Jun 8, 2018
Amazing place to visit. right across the street from the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia. Line ups not too long even in tourist season. Best part is that it the temperature is cool underground. You get out of the oppressive humidity outside into a nice oasis. Spend a bit of time looking at the carvings and columns. there is even a small gift shop attached and food for purchase.
andrey a | Jun 21, 2018
This place is the part of the history. Funny to stay at artificial water tank made 15 centuries ago. But that is all. When you step inside basilica is dark and wet. All you see around is few black columns and other visitors. Only tourist way is heavy lighted, everything else is hidden in the dark.
Mikelis Vasarais | Jul 2, 2018
We thought the caverns were great! The 100,000 liters of water that could be stored is very impressive as are the columns and the Medusa heads in the base of the marble columns. You should definitely stop here. Plus it will allow you to cool down after staying in the heat in lines for the mosques.
Adam Larsson | Jul 13, 2018
If you love history or if you are simply just a Dan Brown fan or if you just want to visit an amazing place then this is a place for you! Incredible feeling to walk down and see a part of history unfolding before your eyes! One of my top three places that I visited in Istanbul so far!
Nouf Alfallaj | Jul 13, 2018
One of the most amazing sightseeing in Istanbul..100% worth your time. Unlike most of Istanbul recommended sightseeing..this one is different. Basically: columns and water in a dark place with mud smell.. but the details are breathtaking
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