Basilica Cistern Tickets

Basilica Cistern | Explore Istanbul's Subterranean Beauty

Basilica Cistern tickets get you access to an iconic ‘Sunken Palace’ of Istanbul, which dates back more than 1,500 years. The Cistern is renowned across the world as the largest surviving underground cistern constructed by the Byzantines in Istanbul. The iconic Cistern dates back to the sixth century when the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I undertook massive construction projects to beautify Constantinople, his capital city. Constructed to supply filtered water to the imperial Great Palace and other royal residences on the First Hill of the city, the structure was an architectural wonder supported by 336 uniquely ornate marble columns. The palatial cistern was functional for a few years before it was abandoned and forgotten for centuries until the Ottomans.

While the sixteenth-century Ottomans revived and used the Basilica Cistern for a while, it soon fell into disrepair and neglect, with several renovations over the centuries. It was only in 1987, after rigorous municipal efforts, that the majestic underground reservoir was opened to the public. With massive marble pillars that seem to reach the skies, Medusa Heads supporting the columns and shallow pools with rippling waters, Basilica Cistern is a must-visit for everyone during their Istanbul tour.

Basilica Cistern Skip-The-Line Guided Tour


  • Book your Basilica Cistern tickets online with Thrillophilia for skip-the-line access to one of Istanbul’s most iconic heritage landmarks.
  • Explore the ancient Roman city’s mysterious underworld with a knowledgeable tour guide who will narrate fascinating stories about the Basilica Cistern.
  • Discover 336 ancient Greek and Roman columns, pedestals, and heads, along with wooden platforms and vaulted ceilings from the Byzantine era.
  • Witness the dramatic inverted walk experience amidst the crystal-clear waters of the cistern and spot the gigantic Medusa Heads during your Basilica Cistern tour.


  • Skip-the-line Basilica Cistern tickets
  • A professional English-speaking tour guide to accompany and assist you throughout the experience.

Cancellation Policy:

  • Basilica Cistern tickets, if cancelled more than 24 hours before the date of travel, cost 100% of the total tour cost as cancellation fees.
  • If the cancellation takes place less than 24 hours before the date of travel, 100% of the total tour cost is charged as a cancellation fee.

Refund Policy

  • Refunds on Basilica Cistern tickets are processed via cash or Thrill Cash+.
  • If you opt for a refund into your Thrillophilia wallet by Thrill Cash+, the payment will get transferred in 30 minutes.
  • For a cash refund, the entire transaction process can take 3-5 business days.
Basilica Cistern: Fast Track Entry + Guided Tour
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Why Visit the Basilica Cistern?

Uncover the mysteries hidden in the depths of Istanbul’s underground with Thrillophilia’s Basilica Cistern tickets. Known as one of the most intriguing destinations in the Turkish capital city, Basilica Cistern dates to the era of Byzantine rule in the region. The cistern, built in the sixth century CE, ranks among the largest Roman structures that have survived to our times.

Constructed by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, the Basilica Cistern is the world’s largest known underground cistern and has never been destroyed or rebuilt. With 336 colossal columns and a mind-boggling capacity of holding 80,000 cubic metres of water, the cistern is a must-visit in Istanbul. Basilica Cistern tickets allow you access to the ancient structure that brings together thousands of years of Greek and Roman architecture. Spot majestic unique columns that existed centuries before the construction of the cistern and got incorporated into Basilica Cistern architecture. Such pedestals, columns and column heads add to the mystery and grandeur of the Basilica Cistern, as no visual experience ever repeats here.

Among the most prominent highlights of the Basilica Cistern are the Medusa Heads, two gigantic stone structures that depict the Gorgon in the darkest corners. Said to have been placed here to symbolise the burial of a Fallen Goddess by the Romans, the two heads provide support to the Cistern’s columns. Stroll through the dimly-lit underground world of Istanbul as you admire the sheer size and art hidden amidst the mysterious surroundings with Basilica Cistern tickets. Get guided tours led by knowledgeable locals who will narrate fascinating legends and stories associated with the ancient structure. Moreover, learn about the tumultuous past of this massive cistern which was once abandoned for centuries and only recently restored to its former glory. So, book your tickets for Basilica Cistern now for an unforgettable adventure during your Istanbul tour.

Interesting Facts About Basilica Cistern

  • As one of the oldest surviving structures of the Byzantine period in Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern ranks among the most-visited attractions of the city.
  • Renowned as the largest surviving Byzantine-era cistern in Istanbul, the structure is adorned with 336 engraved Roman marble columns which give it the appearance of a ‘Sunken Palace’.
  • Designed as an underground water reservoir to supply filtered water to the royals of Constantinople, the cistern can hold more than 80,000 cusecs of water.
  • While the epic proportions of the cistern make it an architectural marvel, the 336 columns that support the entire structure are all unique, suggesting their origin in different cities.  
  • Although the structure is more than 1,500 years old, it has been used for its original purpose of supplying water for less than two centuries.
  • Basilica Cistern has been a part of the video game ‘Assassin’s Creed: Revelations’, numerous movies like the Bond film ‘From Russia with Love’, ‘The International’ and ‘Brotherhood of Tears’, and fictional works like Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno’.
  • Visitors can still witness water dripping from the columns and fish swimming in shallow waters like an echo of the past in the Cistern.

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History Of Basilica Cistern

Byzantine Era of the 6th Century

Constructed under an old dilapidated basilica of Constantinople, the sixth-century Basilica Cistern was commissioned to be built right across the iconic Hagia Sophia by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. Work began on the underground water reservoir in 527-28 and upon completion, it was to provide a continuous supply of filtered water to the Great Palace of the imperial family and other royal residences of Constantinople. While the basilica above vanished after a few centuries, the ‘Sunken Palace’ with its marble columns and intricate architectural details survived.

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Ottoman Era of 16th Century

After the Byzantines shifted base away from the Great Palace in Constantinople, the Basilica Cistern lost importance and was abandoned for centuries. The Ottoman conquest of the city in the fifteenth century led to its rediscovery, and the Cistern was revived to function as the main source of water supply for the imperial Ottoman residence at Topkapi Palace. However, as newer methods of water supply were brought in, the ancient reservoir was transformed into a dumping ground and neglected until its renovation and reopening as a public attraction in 1987.

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Things To See Inside Basilica Cistern

The Weeping Column

The Weeping Column commemorates the contribution and sacrifice of thousands of slaves who worked in the construction of the Basilica Cistern. The must-see pillar is adorned with carvings of trees, peacocks and branches, paying homage to each of the 7,000 slaves who were part of the construction. Since the angled branches and ‘tears’ seem to mimic a hen’s or peacock’s eye, the pillar is also known as the Hen’s Eye or Peacock’s Eye.

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The Upside-Down Medusa Head

Among the most sought-after highlights you can access with Basilica Cistern ticket price, the Upside-Down Medusa Head stands as an unexplained presence in the Byzantine marvel. Hidden underwater for centuries, the two Gorgon heads form the base for the 336 marble columns that support the structure. The Greek construction style of the heads, one of which is upside down and another laid on its side, suggests that they were a part of a ruined Greek temple. Folklore suggests the heads were installed to protect the Cistern from harm. According to tradition, the blocks are positioned sideways and upside down as a protective measure to counteract the formidable gaze of the Gorgons.

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The Water Ripple Effect

Originally constructed as a water reservoir to supply filtered water to the royal residences of the ancient city, the Basilica Cistern stands as a public attraction today with the water drained out from it. However, shallow pools of fresh water still exist throughout the area of the structure, with water dripping down from the columns into them. The constant flow creates a stunning ripple effect that reflects the magnificence of the Byzantine architectural wonder that is hard to miss while exploring the Cistern.

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The Secret Tunnel

Situated underneath the city of Istanbul as part of a massive labyrinth of underground cisterns, the Basilica Cistern can be accessed by ascending a flight of 52 steps. A well-lit public attraction now, the Cistern was a well-hidden secret tunnel unknown to the common people until 1987, when it opened after massive renovation and restoration. Well-lit and full of freshwater pools and stunning marble columns of the Byzantine era, the underground relic is a mysterious wonder of the ancient city.

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Plan Your Visit To Basilica Cistern

How to Reach:

  • By Taxi: This place can be reached by taxis very easily as you can board any taxi service near the Istanbul airport and reach it in the next 30-35 minutes.
  • By Tram: Taking a tram is a cost-effective option taking you to the Basilica Cistern in 50 minutes.

Best Time To Visit: The best time to visit Basilica Cistern Istanbul is from the months of March-May and September-November owing to the pleasant weather of Turkey.

Location: Basilica Cistern is situated in Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey

Distance from Istanbul Airport: The fascinating basilica cistern Istanbul is just 40 kilometers from the Istanbul airport

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Experience Basilica Cistern

Experience Of Basilica Cistern

Visiting the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul was a mesmerizing journey into the depths of history and architecture. As I descended into this ancient underground marvel, I was immediately struck by the grandeur of its colossal columns and the serene ambiance created by the softly lit waters. The sensation of walking on raised wooden pathways, above the shimmering pool, was surreal. I marveled at the Medusa heads, serving as the base for two columns, shrouded in mystery. The echoing sounds of dripping water added to the mystique. This experience transported me back in time, offering a profound connection to Istanbul's rich past.

Why You Should Book Basilica Cistern Tickets Online?

Skip the Line Access – Avoid the hassles of waiting in long queues at the walk-in ticket counters and the Basilica Cistern entrance by getting skip-the-line tickets with Thrillophilia. These tickets let you save precious time, which you can spend exploring the Byzantine wonder with a professional tour guide.

Combo Offers – Avail of unbeatable combo offers and explore the best of Istanbul’s heritage and modern landmarks with Thrillophilia’s Basilica Cistern tickets. Explore prominent attractions of the city like the Hagia Sophia, Dolmabahce Palace and the Grand Bazaar with our top combo packages. This helps you save time and plan your visit to Istanbul more efficiently.

Discounts – Get unmatched discounts and solid deals on ticket prices as you book your Basilica Cistern tickets with Thrillophilia in advance. Make use of deals available exclusively online and explore the various package deals available on our website to make an informed decision.

Tips For Visiting Basilica Cistern

  • Pay the Basilica Cistern entrance fee in advance online to avoid the hassle of waiting in long queues at the walk-in ticket counters.
  • Skip-the-line tickets are highly recommended if you are short on time and need to visit the attraction in the heavy crowds of the afternoon hours.
  • Check the timings and updates about restoration activities at the Cistern before you book your tickets to avoid last-minute issues.
  • Wear comfortable and sturdy shoes for exploring the Cistern to avoid slipping accidents on the wet floors of the attraction.
  • As the Basilica Cistern Istanbul is underground, it is advised that you carry a light woollen article to protect yourself from the slight drop in temperature inside the attraction.
  • It is advised that you wear clothing that covers your arms and knees out of respect for local customs during your visit to the Cistern.
  • Photography on the Basilica Cistern premises is permitted only through the use of mobile phones, so remember to carry yours along.

Basilica Cistern Tickets Options

Basilica Cistern Skip the Line Tickets

Save time and avoid the hassle of waiting in long queues at walk-in counters as you book the skip-the-line Basilica Cistern tickets. Perfect for visitors who have less time to explore the city and wish to save themselves from last-minute delays due to heavy crowds, these tickets get you instant entrance to the Cistern. Purchase the package online in advance for easier and more convenient bookings from the comfort of your home and to avail of steep discounts on Basilica Cistern ticket price.

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Basilica Cistern Guided Tours

Guided tours of the Basilica Cistern are ideal for those who wish to indulge in the fascinating history of the ancient underground water reservoir of the Byzantines. Follow a knowledgeable multilingual guide as they narrate unique details about Basilica Cistern and its highlights and interact with fellow visitors as part of the structured package. Skip the long queues at the Cistern and get access to a multilingual audio guide as well when you book these Basilica Cistern tickets online in advance.

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Hagia Sophia + Topkapi Palace + Basilica Cistern Guided Tours Tickets

Avail of great discounts on Basilica Cistern Istanbul ticket price as you book a combined visit to three of the city’s most popular attractions. Explore the architectural wonders of Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace along with the Basilica Cistern accompanied by a knowledgeable multilingual guide. Enjoy instant entrance as you skip the long lines at the walk-in counters and listen to the incredible histories and hidden facts about the three attractions with a group of people with similar interests as you.

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Blue Mosque + Topkapi Palace + Basilica Cistern Guided Tour

Experience the magnificence of three of Istanbul’s most visited attractions, namely the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the Basilica Cistern as you book a well-planned guided tour. Save a few bucks on the Basilica Cistern ticket cost as you choose combo deals on a day and time slot of your preference. Get skip-the-line access and interact with a professional and knowledgeable guide to learn local myths and factual histories of the attractions as you admire them with a diverse group of visitors.

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FAQs Of Basilica Cistern

Which are the best places to visit near the Basilica Cistern?

  • Hagia Sophia: The most iconic attraction of Istanbul, Hagia Sophia was a church, a mosque and a museum. It dates back to the sixth century and is the most stunning marvel of Byzantine and Ottoman architecture.
  • Blue Mosque: Adorned with mesmerising blue tiles throughout its interiors, massive domes and six colossal minarets, the Blue Mosque is a seventeenth-century Ottoman masterpiece that still functions as a mosque.
  • Topkapi Palace: Renowned as one of the largest surviving palaces in the world, Topkapi Palace was the seat of the Ottoman Sultans for four centuries and is now a museum of imperial treasures.
  • Sultanahmet Square: The heart of Istanbul, Sultanahmet Square is within walking distance from the Hagia Sophia and is home to numerous monuments, restaurants and cafes.
  • Grand Bazaar of Istanbul: Explore one of the world’s oldest and largest markets as you stroll through the thousands of shops of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.

Do you need to book tickets for Basilica Cistern in advance?

Booking Basilica Cistern tickets online in advance, while not mandatory, is highly recommended. Advance bookings help you save time and avoid the hassle of waiting in long queues at the walk-in counters. Avail of amazing combo deals and great discounts and choose your preferred experiences as per your Istanbul itinerary while booking tickets online.

How much time Basilica Cistern tickets are valid for?

Basilica Cistern Istanbul tickets are valid for the day you use them to enter the ancient premises. If you book the tickets in advance, they will be valid for the chosen date for the entire time the Cistern stays open. In combo packages, the tickets can be encashed on any of the days the deal is valid.

Do we have to buy separate Basilica Cistern tickets for kids?

Yes, you are required to buy separate tickets for children aged below 18 years. While the ticket prices for Basilica Cistern remain the same for all visitors irrespective of their age, children are provided separate tickets by the attraction. Remember to get different tickets to ensure hassle-free entry to the Cistern.

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What are the Basilica Cistern Opening Hours?

Opening Hours of Basilica Cistern Istanbul are always 09:00 AM throughout the year but on special occasions like New Year or any kind of religious holiday, it opens at 01:00 PM.

Why Should I Visit the Basilica Cistern?

You should visit Basilica Cistern because this is one of the most ancient and largest remaining structures of the Byzantine Empire. Moreover, it has the captivating look to mesmerize anyone having a look upon them beneath the land along with the infamous Medusa heads.

How to Get to The Basilica Cistern?

You can reach Basilica Cistern by taxi within 30-35 minutes from Istanbul Airport and also, by another affordable option of Tram taking you 50 minutes to reach the T1 tram line.

How old is the Basilica Cistern?

Basilica Cistern is about a whopping 1500 years ago and was built when Istanbul was the ancient city of Byzantium by the Emperor Justinian the Great in 523 AD.

What are the opening hours of the Basilica Cistern?

Basilica Cistern Istanbul is open on all days of the week from 9 AM to 7 PM. While the timings stay the same throughout the year, it is recommended that you check the opening hours prior to your visit to the attraction in case of last-minute changes owing to restoration work or festive celebrations.

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Is the Basilica Cistern accessible for people with disabilities?

Yes, Basilica Cistern is accessible to visitors with disabilities. While wheelchairs can be operated on the premises, they are not provided on-site and visitors are expected to bring their own along for the tour. It is advised that you exercise caution while navigating on wheelchairs as some areas can be slippery due to the water in the Cistern.

What is the best time to visit the Basilica Cistern?

The best time to visit Basilica Cistern is during the early morning hours. This allows you to avoid the crowds in the afternoon and evening hours and explore the attraction at leisure. The best months are from March to May when the weather is pleasant and the crowds are less as it’s off-season.

Can I visit the Basilica Cistern at night?

The Basilica Cistern closes for visitors by 7 PM every evening. The attraction lights up as evening rolls in, allowing visitors to admire the ancient structure in darker settings. Thus, if you wish to explore at night, it is advised that you visit an hour before closing time to enjoy the experience.

How to get to Basilica Cistern Istanbul?

Basilica Cistern is located at Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd 1/3, 34110 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkiye.

  • By Tram: Hop on the T1 tram and drop off at Sultanahmet tram station to reach the Cistern. The total time required is approximately 50 minutes.
  • By Car/Taxi: The airport is approximately 30 minutes away from the Basilica Cistern by road.

Why is Basilica Cistern famous?

Renowned as the largest surviving underground cistern of the Byzantines in Istanbul, Basilica Cistern attracts millions of visitors every year. With more than 300 Roman marble columns and iconic highlights like the Upside-Down Medusa Head, the Cistern is famous for its stunning and mysterious dark interiors and tumultuous past under the Byzantines and the Ottomans.


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