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.
Book your skip the line tickets to explore the famous Basilica Cistern, one of the largest & most popular cisterns located in Istanbul
Witness the Medusa heads; one of the three Gorgons with snakes in place of hair that could turn anyone into stone
With raised wooden platforms, vaulted ceiling, and aesthetic beauty, the Basilica Cistern reflects the history and culture of the Roman Age
Get an inverted walk experience, as the water in the cistern is so crystal clear that it reflects the ceiling
A friendly tour guide who will assist you throughout the tour and will tell you interesting stories and facts about this historical monument
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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.
Must Visit & Checkout - Hidden Gems Of Basilica Cistern
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.
Visit & Explore - Basilica Cistern Architecture
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.
Read More - Basilica Cistern Mysteries
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.
Also Checkout - Inside Basilica Cistern
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.
Must Visit - Basilica Cistern Nearby Restaurants
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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How to Reach:
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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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.
Booking Basilica Cistern tickets online is the easier and more convenient way to explore the ancient attraction at leisure on a day and time slot of your preference. Renowned as one of the top places to visit in Istanbul, the underground architectural relic supplied water to the city under the Byzantines and stands as a symbol of the connection between history and modernity.
Online booking and payment of Basilica Cistern ticket price get you skip-the-line access to the attraction, which allows you to skip the long queues at the walk-in counters and Cistern entrance and save precious time. Embark on a hassle-free tour as you explore numerous package deals and choose the experience best suited to your requirements and tastes.
Get guided tours to the Basilica Cistern, combo packages that include tickets to other Istanbul attractions like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace, or access to city cards and passes by booking your Cistern tickets online. While guided tours offer the options of multilingual audio guides or knowledgeable human guides narrating facts and stories about the attraction, combo deals get you great discounts on ticket prices and soothe your budget worries. Discover the convenience of booking online as you pay the Basilica Cistern entrance fee in advance.
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.
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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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.
Must Checkout - Basilica Cistern Trip
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.
Also Checkout - Facts About Basilica Cistern
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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.
Basilica Cistern is located at Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd 1/3, 34110 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkiye.
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.