Plan Your Visit To Basilica Cistern

Why Visit Basilica Cistern

Visiting the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul is a must-do activity for any traveler to the city. This underground cistern was built in the 6th century during the reign of Emperor Justinian I and has been beautifully preserved over the centuries. With its striking columns, mysterious Medusa heads, and tranquil atmosphere, the Basilica Cistern offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors.

When planning a visit to the Basilica Cistern, it is important to note that the site can be quite busy during peak tourist season, especially during midday. To avoid crowds and fully appreciate the cistern's beauty, it is best to visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon. It is also recommended to purchase tickets in advance to avoid waiting in long lines.

Plan your Visit to Basilica Cistern

Opening Hours
Best Time to Visit
How To Reach
  • The Basilica Cistern is open every day of the week for visitors.
  • The opening hours may vary depending on the season and local holidays.
  • As of September 2021, the cistern is open from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm.
  • The last entry is at 6:00 pm, so visitors should arrive early enough to allow time to explore.
  • The cistern may be closed or have limited access during special events or maintenance work.
  • Visitors should check the official website or local tourism boards for any announcements or changes to the opening hours before heading to the Basilica Cistern

Places to Visit Near Basilica Cistern >>

  • The best time to visit the Basilica Cistern is during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall.
  • During these seasons, the weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller than in the peak summer season.
  • Visiting in the early morning or late afternoon is also recommended to avoid the busiest times of day.
  • Summer in Istanbul can be hot and humid, and the Basilica Cistern can become crowded during this time.
  • Winter can be chilly and rainy, making it less enjoyable to explore the cistern's damp and cool interior.
  • Visitors should check the weather forecast and plan their visit accordingly, taking into account both the weather and the crowds.

Things to Do Near Basilica Cistern >>

By Metro:

  • Take the Marmaray or T1 metro line to the Sultanahmet Station.
  • From the station, the Basilica Cistern is about a 10-minute walk away.

By Tram:

  • Take the T1 tram line to the Sultanahmet Tram Station.
  • From the station, the cistern is about a 5-minute walk away.

By Car:

  • The Basilica Cistern is located in the Sultanahmet district, which has limited car access due to its narrow streets and historic buildings.
  • There are paid parking lots near the area, but it is recommended to park elsewhere and use public transportation to reach the cistern.

By Bus:

  • Take the Istanbul City Lines bus to the Eminönü or Sirkeci station.
  • From there, the cistern is about a 15-minute walk away.


What is the Basilica Cistern?

The Basilica Cistern is an underground water storage chamber built in the 6th century during the Byzantine period. It is one of the largest surviving cisterns in Istanbul.

Where is the Basilica Cistern located?

The Basilica Cistern is located in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, near popular landmarks such as the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

Is there an entrance fee to visit the Basilica Cistern?

Yes, there is an entrance fee for visitors to the cistern. The fee is charged per person and can be paid in Turkish Lira or by credit card.

What can visitors see at the Basilica Cistern?

Visitors can see the large underground chamber supported by columns, the two famous Medusa head columns, and the water that fills the cistern.

Is the Basilica Cistern accessible for people with disabilities?

Yes, the cistern is accessible for people with disabilities, including wheelchair users. However, there are some narrow passageways and stairs to navigate within the cistern.


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