Trip Planner:   Europe  /  Turkey  /  Istanbul  /  Historic Sites  /  Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

(4.6/5 based on 24,000+ reviews on the web)
Explore the largest of hundreds of ancient cisterns located below the city at Basilica Cistern. This fascinating chamber of the underground water systems, commissioned in 532 by Byzantine Emperor Justinian, is remarkable for its practical and artistic value. After a complete renovation in the 1980s, the cistern became one of the most popular tourist sites in Istanbul's Sultanahmet district. Walk along the wooden platforms beneath the dark, vaulted ceilings of this cathedral-sized cistern and see its famous Medusa-head pillar and Hen's Eye column. Our Istanbul tour planner makes visiting Basilica Cistern and other Istanbul attractions simple, and helps you make a travel plan personal to you.
Create a full Istanbul itinerary
map

Plan your trip to Istanbul

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Plans in Istanbul by other users

8 days in Europe BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM April, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: April, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 8 days in Europe BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM April, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: April, culture, outdoors, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 20 days in Europe BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES April, popular PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 36 days in Europe BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: June, kids, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, museums, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 35 days in Europe BY A USER FROM CANADA September, culture, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: September, culture, relaxing, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 35 days in Europe BY A USER FROM CANADA September, culture, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: September, culture, relaxing, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 13 days in Europe BY A USER FROM ISRAEL October, popular PREFERENCES: October ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Turkey BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, culture, relaxing, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: May, culture, relaxing, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 15 days in Europe BY A USER FROM ISRAEL October, popular PREFERENCES: October ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 10 days in Europe BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM April, culture, romantic, historic sites, popular PREFERENCES: April, culture, romantic, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 31 days in Europe BY A USER FROM MEXICO May, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums, popular PREFERENCES: May, culture, outdoors, relaxing, romantic, beaches, historic sites, museums ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 40 days in Europe BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: May, culture, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium
View more plans
Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Love this place, it's so big with an intriguing atmosphere. Don't miss the Medusa heads that gave just the right height to the columns they are under.  more »
  • A fascinating history that takes you past while visiting places like oranday the dream as if you were at once evokes feelings is one of the great İstanbul
    View original
  • You can not even imagine what you gonna face when you enter the door. It's another world under the ground.  more »
Google
  • For $20 Liras ( $10 Liras for Locals) you get to walk underneath the city in this massive cistern which held most of the cities water for centuries. The music and acoustics are perfect. Not so easy to get great pictures because of the dark lighting. Be sure to look for the 2 Medusa heads in the corner, there are signs pointing you in that direction . Audio guide is $10 liras
  • Awesome place to see in istanbul. A kind of discovery of underground world of istanbul. Just under the street. Do not forget to see movie of james bond "from russia with love " befor ethe visiting this place.
  • It was really amazing inside. The lighting was perfect. There is a small cafeteria inside the cistern. We had a coffee sitting on the pavement above the waters. It was so mystic and the feeling was so different that i couldn't express. Love to visit again.
  • Good but not that goodness Good place to be visited But it's not that goodness, you have to consider that it is not accessible with the museums card. So you have to bay for it Of course it's a amazing architecture building. You will not see anything more than you saw in the photos If you have a good camera with good night mode, you will have a good pictures inside
  • Though costs a bit (20 TL) it was an impressive visit. Vast space and interesting medusa sculptures. Good escape from hot sun for a brief moment. Audio guide doesn't really tell much. Haven't seen anything like that elswhere.