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Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

4.5
#3 of 5,697 in Things to do in Turkey
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. Put Basilica Cistern at the forefront of your travel plans using our Istanbul holiday planning website .
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Basilica Cistern Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
26,255 reviews
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4.5
TripAdvisor
  • Thought it would be more impressions. Nothing much. The smell of mold and sewage. A huge water tank. At the end of the mini pool with fish, the smell is unbearable. All why do images with the stone head of Medusa the Gorgon.
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  • The cistern is without water, empty, and only a part you can see because the rest is in restoration. Too expensive the entrance to see so little, makes little sense at this time.
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  • When we visited the Cistern half of the place was being renovated and there was no water inside. It is a great place for interesting pictures (however you will need to be very patient and always wait ...  more »
Google
  • This place is the part of the history. Funny to stay at artificial water tank made 15 centuries ago. But that is all. When you step inside basilica is dark and wet. All you see around is few black columns and other visitors. Only tourist way is heavy lighted, everything else is hidden in the dark.
  • One of the most amazing sightseeing in Istanbul..100% worth your time. Unlike most of Istanbul recommended sightseeing..this one is different. Basically: columns and water in a dark place with mud smell.. but the details are breathtaking
  • This is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Turkey. It is a place that you cannot describe appropriately, you must visit it. Each step you make you see columns and columns but the scene is always different. If you like taking pictures bring your tripod, It's a great place for impressive pictures. The temperature inside is not so low as in a cavern, but neither hot, so simply bring a light jacket and that's it.
  • If you love history or if you are simply just a Dan Brown fan or if you just want to visit an amazing place then this is a place for you! Incredible feeling to walk down and see a part of history unfolding before your eyes! One of my top three places that I visited in Istanbul so far!
  • We thought the caverns were great! The 100,000 liters of water that could be stored is very impressive as are the columns and the Medusa heads in the base of the marble columns. You should definitely stop here. Plus it will allow you to cool down after staying in the heat in lines for the mosques.
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