Inside Basilica Cistern

Discover the Beauty of Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern is a remarkable piece of architecture located in Istanbul, Turkey. Constructed in the 6th century during the Byzantine Empire, the cistern was used to store water for the Great Palace of Constantinople and other buildings in the city. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Istanbul, known for its impressive columns, atmospheric lighting, and ancient history. The cistern covers an area of 9,800 square meters and can hold up to 80,000 cubic meters of water. It is supported by 336 columns, many of which were salvaged from earlier Roman buildings.

Visitors can walk along raised platforms that run through the cistern and marvel at the intricate carvings on the columns, as well as the vaulted brick ceiling. The cistern is illuminated by softly glowing lights, creating a mystical and enchanting atmosphere. The Basilica Cistern is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, architecture, or simply seeking a unique and captivating experience in Istanbul.

Things to do Inside the Basilica Cistern

Admire the Architecture

The basilica cistern is a remarkable example of Byzantine engineering, with its 336 columns, intricate brickwork, and impressive vaulted ceiling. Take some time to appreciate the craftsmanship that went into building this underground marvel.

Read More About Architecture of Basilica Cistern >>

Explore the Medusa heads

Two of the columns in the cistern are topped with carved Medusa heads, which were likely recycled from an earlier building. Some visitors believe that looking into the eyes of Medusa will bring bad luck, so beware!

Read More About the Medusa Heads >>

Classical Music Concerts

During some periods of the year, the cistern hosts classical music concerts or live traditional music performances, which make for a unique and atmospheric experience.

Take a Boat Ride

For a small fee, visitors can take a short boat ride around the cistern's perimeter. This is a great way to see the columns and the water up close, and it can be particularly romantic at night when the cistern is lit up.

Things to Do Near Basilica Cistern >>


What are the opening hours of Basilica Cistern?

Basilica Cistern is open every day from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm.

How much does it cost to visit Basilica Cistern?

The admission fee for Basilica Cistern is 40 Turkish Lira per person.

Is there a dress code for visiting Basilica Cistern?

There is no specific dress code for visiting Basilica Cistern. However, visitors are advised to dress modestly as it is a religious site.

Can I take pictures inside Basilica Cistern?

Yes, visitors are allowed to take pictures inside Basilica Cistern. However, the use of tripods and flash photography is not allowed.

Is there a guided tour available for Basilica Cistern?

Yes, there are guided tours available for Basilica Cistern. Visitors can either join a group tour or hire a private tour guide.

Are there any restrictions on touching the columns or water inside Basilica Cistern?

Visitors are not allowed to touch the columns or water inside Basilica Cistern. Touching the columns can damage the historical structure, and touching the water is prohibited for hygiene reasons.

Can I bring food or drinks inside Basilica Cistern?

No, visitors are not allowed to bring food or drinks inside Basilica Cistern. There is a small café outside where visitors can purchase refreshments.


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