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Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

4.4
#3 of 6,366 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
TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
31,361 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • Go and go early. Don't bother with a tour or tour guide. Go early and there are neither lines for buying ticket nor the security search which was practically nothing. Going early and walking amongst.....  more
    Go and go early. Don't bother with a tour or tour guide. Go early and there are neither lines for buying ticket nor the security search which was practically nothing. Going early and walking amongst.....  more »
  • I was unprepared for how amazing this was. I thought, "A cistern? Really?" For one thing, the fact that it's preserved from Roman times is amazing -- the engineering and architecture alone are worth.....  more
    I was unprepared for how amazing this was. I thought, "A cistern? Really?" For one thing, the fact that it's preserved from Roman times is amazing -- the engineering and architecture alone are worth.....  more »
Google
  • A fantastic, one of a kind place. I highly recommend an online in advance purchase to skip the long queues. If possible avoid weekends . The place is recently renovated and looks amazing. However I can’t say the same thing about the outside of the building - it looks too modern and doesn’t fit with the surrounding architecture. The old entrance was much better- I hope they will do something about it.
  • Incredible experience. Get your cameras ready. The light show really adds to the ambience. For history buffs, if you look closely at columns, you can see carved initials in Greek and Latin and a few crosses here and there. There's a nice art show too that adds a modern touch.

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