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Basilica Cistern

6 Şeftali Sk
+90 212 522 12 59
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Basilica Cistern Istanbul  Turkey
An Underground Wonder Istanbul  Turkey
Under Istanbul Istanbul  Turkey
Beneath Istanbul Istanbul  Turkey
Istanbul Istanbul  Turkey
Underground Cistern Istanbul  Turkey
The old Cistern under the Sultanahmet Istanbul  Turkey
Basilica Cistern  Istanbul  Turkey
Basilica Cistern Istanbul  Turkey
Istanbul's Moody Basilica Cistern Istanbul  Turkey
Basilica Cistern Istanbul  Turkey
An Underground Wonder Istanbul  Turkey
Under Istanbul Istanbul  Turkey
Beneath Istanbul Istanbul  Turkey
Istanbul Istanbul  Turkey
Underground Cistern Istanbul  Turkey
The old Cistern under the Sultanahmet Istanbul  Turkey
Basilica Cistern  Istanbul  Turkey
Basilica Cistern Istanbul  Turkey
Istanbul's Moody Basilica Cistern Istanbul  Turkey

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Sun - Sat 9am - 5:30pm

An Underground Wonder

A city as ancient as Istanbul has many layers of history, and you’ll have to go below the surface to see the Basilica Cistern, the largest of the underground cisterns. Built in the sixth century for the Byzantine emperor Justinian, the atmospheric reservoir is supported by 336 columns, many of which have been repurposed from other ruins over the centuries. The Medusa-head column bases are a favorite to photograph, along with the carp that swim silently in the dimly lit waters. The cistern is located between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, and the best time to visit is simply whenever the line looks short, especially on a hot summer day—it’s always cooler underground.

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AFAR Local Expert
over 4 years ago

Under Istanbul

One of my favorite spots in Istanbul was underground. The impressive cistern system under the city is on display at the Basilica Cistern near the Hagia Sopia, but it's easy to miss. They've done an incredible job with the atmosphere down there with walkways above the water and around hundreds of columns lit from below. Perfect amount of spook and awe. Be sure to hunt down the Medusa capitals in the back.
over 4 years ago

Beneath Istanbul

The Cistern is an incredible sight-- underground and from the 6th century, it's worth the 10 Liras to go in. Make sure you check out the upside down Medusa sculpture hidden in the back. Oh, and it's surprisingly not smelly. Check it out!
over 4 years ago

Istanbul

This is absolutely my favorite place in Istanbul. The city is beautiful above ground but it is a whole other world below the surface.
over 4 years ago

Underground Cistern

This cistern is thought to have been built after the Nika revolt in 532 AD. It was known as the Basilica Cistern during the Roman period. After the conquest of the city by the Ottoman Turks, it was forgotten and nobody knew that it existed. It was re-discovered in 1545, and was used to water the gardens of Topkapi Palace. Today it has a rather eery and mystical ambience.
over 4 years ago

The old Cistern under the Sultanahmet

Recently discovered, the Cistern is made of columns scavenged from all over Turkey. It was the main water supply for Old Istanbul and a marvel of engineering. It's also cool and refreshing after the summer heat above.
over 4 years ago

Basilica Cistern

When you enter, take a few minute to let your eyes adjust to the dim light but then be prepared for an architectural treat looking around this former water tank. Several of the columns appear uniform but have slight variations in them...plus don't miss the Medusa Head in the way back. It's worth trekking to the other end to see.
over 4 years ago

Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern is a must-see on any Istanbul itinerary. If you take a tour of the city, you may see major mosques, houses, and churches, but this is a truly unique experience. It is located right across the street from the entrance to Aya Sofya and the Blue Mosque.

It is really cool to walk underground and see where water was stored in olden days.

Insider's tip: Visit the cistern in the late afternoon when Istanbul is hottest. The temperature in the cistern is usually up to 20°F cooler than at ground level. And don't miss the Medusa heads!
over 4 years ago

Basilica Cistern

Refreshing tour when it's 100F out !! Beautiful cistern, great distraction for kids as well…
over 4 years ago

Istanbul's Moody Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern in Sultanahmet (the Old City) is the largest of hundreds of cisterns that lie beneath Istanbul.

I arrive early to beat the crowds, but I have not arrived early enough: the tour groups have already arrived.

The Basilica Cistern would be eery if I weren't sharing it with hundreds of other people. Still, it's worth seeing.

In the far end of the cavern (the northwest corner) lies a fabulous Medusa head pillar.

Turkey Trip Report: http://bit.ly/ONKIN7