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Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

4.4
#3 of 5,993 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
30,899 reviews
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4.5
TripAdvisor
  • Even though the cistern is empty of water at the moment due to renovations it is still worth the visit for the few pounds it costs to get in. the pillars are incredible and the must see are the...  more »
  • Been to Istanbul so many times already and never had the chance/time to visit the famous Cistern - this time we finally managed. Essentially, the place is an underground passage amidst pillars and...  more »
Google
  • Truly a wonderful, magnificent and inspirational place. A place to visit at least once in your life! How did they build this magnificent place underground holding the vital resource that is water? How did they dig such as place with huge numbers of columns to support the needs of the city of Constantinople? It’s truly amazing once you think about these and then imagine that this was built more than a thousand years ago. The place is beautiful, a sight to behold and a true masterpiece.
  • A hidden place to visit. (to me) Famous by the book of Inferno by Dan Brown. Wise to attend a guided tour to know more about the history and some interesting stories of the cistern. Otherwise it’s just a gigantic and hollow basement. My daughter was very obsessed about the stone carving of Medusa’s head and its fascinating story.
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