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Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

4.5
#3 of 6,009 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
29,198 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • Very dark, to keep it, but you imagine how the water ran there, inside many columns, had no water and there were too many people, they would have to regulate a quota to enter, we could not walk through the halls
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  • Some of these reviews make me laugh - “it was very dark” - really?! If you are an engineer, or have any interest in architecture, just marvel at this place. I apologize for the shouties but it is dese...  more »
Google
  • It was #1 on my list of tourist attractions to visit in Istanbul and I was glad I visited, it was worth every penny. This landmark is very ancient and rich in history with a unique vibe and atmosphere. I had an unforgettable experience walking along its raised wooden platforms and the marble columns caught my gaze. I took a photo wearing one of their traditional costumes in the photo booth located within the cistern and it remains one of my favorite travel mementos from my visit to Istanbul as it sits pretty in my living room. There’s also a cistern cafe you can cool off at after the tour. I highly recommend a visit to all tourists and also locals.
  • Really cool place to visit and not very expensive. Didn't even know it was there the first time we went to Istanbul! It's short and a little basic compared to some of the big mosques and churches but still something worth seeing. Just being underground is cool within itself.
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