Why Basilica Cistern Tour is Famous

A visit to Basilica Cistern is incomplete without taking a tour of this ancient architectural marvel. The tour is an excellent way to learn about the history, architecture, and legends associated with the cistern. Many local tour operators offer guided tours of the Basilica Cistern, which typically last for an hour. These tours are conducted in both English and Turkish languages, making it accessible to international and local tourists alike.

During the tour, visitors can explore the dimly lit underground chambers and admire the grandeur of the cistern. The guide provides an in-depth understanding of the architecture and history of the Basilica Cistern, including the unique features such as the Medusa heads, the columns, and the water system. Additionally, visitors can learn about the legends surrounding the cistern, such as the story of the Basilisk and the Medusa, which adds a mythical touch to the tour. A visit to the Basilica Cistern is an experience that is sure to leave visitors awestruck, and a guided tour enhances this experience by providing a deeper understanding of the place.

Basilica Cistern Tickets and Guided Tour

Booking a Basilica Cistern tour is highly recommended for several reasons. First and foremost, a guided tour provides valuable historical and architectural insights into the cistern, making the experience more informative and memorable. A knowledgeable guide can provide detailed information about the construction of the cistern, its historical significance, and the various columns and sculptures present inside.

Moreover, a tour ensures that visitors do not miss out on any important details or features of the cistern. It can be easy to get lost or overwhelmed inside the dimly lit cistern, so having a guide to lead the way and point out notable elements is extremely helpful. Additionally, tours often provide skip-the-line access, allowing visitors to bypass long queues and save time that can be better spent exploring the cistern and other nearby attractions.

Overall, booking a Basilica Cistern tour is a smart decision for those looking to make the most out of their visit. It offers an enriching educational experience, helps visitors navigate the cistern with ease, and allows for a more efficient use of time.

Basilica Cistern: Fast Track Entry + Guided Tour
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Basilica Cistern Fast Track Entry Guided Tour
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  • 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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Must Know Before You Go
  • Fixed day ticket implies that this ticket will be applicable only for the date that you've booked the ticket, it won't be carried forward to next or any other day.
  • ID proof is mandatory for each individual guest at the time of arrival.
  • All foreign nationals must share their passport and visa details at the time of arrival.
  • Latecomers or no-shows can't be refunded.
  • Basilica Cistern is wheelchair accessible. However, there is no wheelchair service available on the site. You need to provide your own wheelchair if needed.
  • Visitors will find an elevator providing easy access to the sightseeing platform.
  • Age policies change according to the package. Please go through the policies in the package before booking.
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What to Explore During a Basilica Cistern Guided Tour

Medusa Heads
Medusa Heads

The two Medusa heads at the base of two columns are the most famous features of the cistern.

The origins of these eerie carvings are not clear, but they add a unique touch to the underground structure.

Corinthian Columns
Corinthian Columns

The cistern is supported by a forest of 336 marble columns, each about 30 feet tall.

Some of these columns are plain, but others feature intricate Corinthian capitals with delicate carvings of leaves and flowers.

Hen's Eye Pillar
Hen's Eye Pillar

One of the most interesting columns in the cistern is the Hen's Eye pillar, which has a large, circular "eye" carved into its base.

The purpose of this eye is not clear, but it adds to the mysterious and fascinating atmosphere of the cistern.

Fish and Carp
Fish and Carp

The cistern is home to a variety of fish and carp, which can be seen swimming in the water.

These fish are descendants of the ones that were originally placed in the cistern to keep the water clean and fresh.

Byzantine Artifacts
Byzantine Artifacts

In addition to the architectural features of the cistern, there are also a number of Byzantine artifacts on display, including a statue of the Greek goddess Medusa and a relief of a man with a bull's head.

Essential Information

Essential Information

Best Time to Visit:

  • The best time to visit the Basilica Cistern is during the weekdays in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds. Additionally, visiting during the off-season (November to March) may offer a quieter experience.


  • Entry ticket to Basilica Cistern
  • Professional English-speaking guide

Meeting point :

  • Meet at the Sultanahmet BusForUs stop in front of the Hagia Sophia.

What to bring:

  • Passport or ID card

Please Note: 

  • This attraction cannot be visited without the guide
  • All children will be asked to present their valid passports at the entrance of the museums in order to validate their age


What is included in a Basilica Cistern tour?

    A Basilica Cistern tour typically includes entrance fees, a professional tour guide, and an audio guide to learn about the history and architecture of the cistern. Some tours may also include hotel pickup and drop-off, skip-the-line access, and a visit to other nearby attractions.

How long does a Basilica Cistern tour take?

Is it necessary to book a Basilica Cistern tour in advance?

What should I wear on a Basilica Cistern tour?

Is the Basilica Cistern accessible for individuals with disabilities?

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