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Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

4.5
#3 of 6,373 in Things to do in Turkey
Must see · Architectural Building · Ruin
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Explore the largest of hundreds of ancient cisterns located below the city at Basilica Cistern. This fascinating chamber of the underground water systems, commissioned in 532 by Byzantine Emperor Justinian, is remarkable for its practical and artistic value. After a complete renovation in the 1980s, the cistern became one of the most popular tourist sites in Istanbul's Sultanahmet district. Walk along the wooden platforms beneath the dark, vaulted ceilings of this cathedral-sized cistern and see its famous Medusa-head pillar and Hen's Eye column. Put Basilica Cistern at the forefront of your travel plans using our Istanbul holiday planning website.
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Basilica Cistern reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
31,555 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • Yes it's huge and has the famous Medusas. Beyond that the quietly dynamic lighting is very effective and the contemporary sculptures are delightful and not intrusive 
    Yes it's huge and has the famous Medusas. Beyond that the quietly dynamic lighting is very effective and the contemporary sculptures are delightful and not intrusive  more »
  • Here is another old historical site that you must see. Pls be aware that is is very hot and humid inside, there are long lines but all so worth it! 
    Here is another old historical site that you must see. Pls be aware that is is very hot and humid inside, there are long lines but all so worth it!  more »
Google
  • This place is spectacular! Very dramatic and unique architectural design. Can not imagine how this place is well conserved. Each column structure has a very remarkable character. Very spacious and self-guided once you enter. It would have been nice if they offer a recorded audio tour to give people the opportunity to learn more about the place. If you want to skip the line highly recommend purchasing your tickets online. Also, note there is no restroom on site.
  • This is a must see when in Istanbul Turkey. The weekend we were here, there was a wait line but it moves pretty fast. We waited for our guide ans watched the people in line. If you want to bypass the line you need a tour guide. They will charge you for the tickets and tour 15-25 US per person. We only have 3 days here so the tour guide made sense. Beautiful cistern, 336 columns in total. They just renovated, and improved the walking platforms, made them higher. During contraction there was some modern art added. Looks amazing along with the original artifacts. Since the renovation, the entrance is at the side if the main building. Not the little one. It's just around the corner. 20 second walk. There are security guards that will help you. If meeting a guide, make sure you know where you meet them.

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