All photos (40)Basilica Cistern
Basilica Cistern
Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

9.2130 reviews
Historic Site, Landmark
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  • 6.5
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  • 6.4
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Alemdar Mah. Yerebatan Cad. 34410 Sultanahmet, Fatih, Istanbul, Turkey
+90 212 522 12 59
http://yerebatan.com/
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Description
A cistern is basically a large water storage tank. But, like so many other things, the inhabitants of Constantinople knew how to store their water with elegance and flair; enough to make this ... Read more
glorified reservoir well worth visiting. You can admire the construction and integrated artwork while strolling through the halls the echo with piped in classical music. Also known as the “Sunken Place”, the largest of hundreds of underground cisterns throughout the city was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.

Member Reviews(130)

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Marsaxlokk

The Basilica Cistern is a most impressive, ancient water reservoir built beneath Istanbul in the 6th century. It is the largest of many cisterns beneath the city, the size of a cathedral. Today it is a major tourist attraction. It takes a short while for your eyes to get accustomed to the dim lighting once you descend down the structure but you will remain in awe by the sheer magnitude of it and the marble columns that support its ceiling, an awesome engineering feat.

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Merriam

Made famous in the Dan Brown movie, a great place to visit on a hot afternoon when you need a place to cool off for a bit. You can see everything in 10 minutes, or linger longer to marvel at the complexity and when it was built. Note that taking photos costs extra, and even more if you want to use a tripod.

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New York City

Out of all the places I've been to in the world, the Basilica Cistern has by far been one of the most interesting. There's an air of mystery with this temple originally built by the Romans and then later taken over by a cult dedicated to the Greek mythological character of Medusa. Why did they leave a medusa head in this temple and why did they flood it with one foot of water? We may never know the answers. If you find out, please tell me.

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Local from Istanbul

I expected something very different when I heard there was water there. It's OK, but not wonderful. Just a bunch of pillars surrounded by water where you can walk through.

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Foster City

Amazing underground water system, its great to see the history of this place, how a water filtration system was build back in the days.

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Local from Istanbul

One of the best-preserved cisterns in the world, this enormous underground chamber once held up to 100,000 tons of water for the city’s inhabitants. Built in 532 by the Emperor Justinian, it is another powerful reminder of the Byzantine Empire’s ambition. It’s dark and atmospheric alleyways set by 336 columns are an excellent entry into the city’s underworld. The eerie quiet and darkness transport you into the deep historical roots of the city, and can be a welcome break from that which occurs above the service.

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Incredible underground water storage system from the 6th century. Renovated in 1989 for tourists to explore. Don't miss medusa's heads in he back corner

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San Jose

You might recognize the cistern in pop culture associated with Dan Brown or James Bond, but it has a history all its own. Did you know it was built to hold 70 tons of water for a century, or that the pillars are mismatched because they're recycled from various (mostly Greek) temples? Head down the street from the Ayasofya and check it out.

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San Francisco

The Basilica Cistern was my favorite thing that we saw in Istanbul. I've never been anywhere quite like it. The water and the dark alley ways are so cool. Sometimes they host concerts down here.

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San Marcos

The Romans were amazing. I can't believe the things they made. This cistern held water for the city and it is such a feat of engineering!

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Denver
First to Review

Pretty interesting place to visit . It's a short sight underground with pillars and the old water reserves. The medusa head blocks serve as the highlight . Can be congested at the medusa.

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San Diego

This is a beautiful piece of Byzantine engineering that has been there since the year 532. The sheer size and number of columns they put under the city to create this cistern is astonishing, Go all the way to the back to see the two Medusa heads, and watch your step. It is slippery under there.

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Berlin

Beautiful place in Istanbul to cool down, take photos and escape lines of tourists. It's bigger than we thought and was easy to maneuver through. The lighting was really fun and it was a lovely place to stroll and relax.

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Bedford

The cistern was one of the most memorable places in Istanbul, with its immense pillars hauntingly illuminated from below. This incredibly historic place has the location of everything from movies to videogames to books, but still feels almost undiscovered by its understated entrance. Once you make past the gaudy shop and cafe at the entry, the cistern is so vast that you may even feel alone on a deserted platform - nothing like the tourist crush of other attractions. Don't miss the fascinating Medusa heads in the back!

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Moss Beach

You walk down stone steps into the cool bowels of the earth, into a completely artificial cave-like environment. On hot days it's cool darkness is a welcomed relief for the glare of the streets. It's magical, historic, and wow I'd love to paddle my kayak around in there. Reading a bit of the history I found that one of the fellows who rediscovered the cistern did paddle through the then very muddy waters in a small boat.

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Bedford

A trip to Istanbul would not be complete without visiting the Basilica cistern. Made famous in Dan Brown's book and featured in many movies and video games, this place is something out of fiction. Probably not the ideal stop for the claustrophobic among us.

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Brooklyn

The lighting in here matches the atmosphere completely. Walking through here only adds to your deep respect for the architecture of this city. Also a good respite during summer touring of Istanbul.

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Local from Istanbul

Orhan Pamuk says Istanbul has a ‘subconscious’. If it literally existed, The Basilica Cistern would serve as a portal to it. Built by Byzantine Emperor Justinianus I to provide water to the palace, the Cistern spreads over an area about 10.000 sqmeters. Its massive pillars, low-key lighting and the upside down Medusa heads render the place even more haunting.

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Union City

Who knew that an area that can store water could be so pretty? The Basilica Cistern was once used to store water for the residents of Constantinople and is now a museum. There's something magical about the Basilica Cistern. I'm not quite sure what it is, but it's enchanting down there. It's a bit of a hike to go down the stairs, but it's very much worth the trip and the extra cardio. .

Just like when it was actually used as a cistern, you can still see carp swimming around in the water. The Medusa heads were pretty cool, as well. I did not expect them to be as big as they were.

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Palo Alto

Built by the Byzantine emporers, this is a must-see in Istanbul. You can just imagine Perseus and Medusa fighting it out, hiding behind the pillars. There's actually fish in the water too!

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Basilica Cistern

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Aliases: Yerebatan Sarayı

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