Basilica Cistern

About the Basilica Cistern

In the middle of Istanbul, Turkey, there’s a special underground water tank called the Basilica Cistern. This ancient marvel from the Byzantine times is also known as the “Yerebatan Sarnıcı” in Turkish. It was built in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian I and played a big role in providing water to the Great Palace of Constantinople and nearby buildings. When you enter the Basilica Cistern, you’ll see a stunning sight: lots of tall marble columns rising from the ground, giving it the feel of an underground palace. 

Among these columns, you can find two impressive heads of Medusa, adding to the eerie old charm of the cistern. It’s amazing to think about the cleverness of the people who built this architectural wonder over a thousand years ago as you walk through the dimly lit chambers with the help of strategically placed lights. As a fascinating reminder of Istanbul’s history as a meeting point of civilizations, the Basilica Cistern still stands today as a testament to the city’s rich past.

History of the Basilica Cistern

According to the Basilica Cistern map, it is an impressive underground space in Istanbul, Turkey. It’s a huge area, covering about 9,800 square meters, and can hold up to 80,000 cubic meters of water. What makes it even more special is that it’s supported by 336 marble columns gathered from different old buildings around the Byzantine Empire. These columns add to the cistern’s unique appeal and historical value. One of the most famous columns is the “Medusa column,” featuring an upside-down head of Medusa.

Over time, the Basilica Cistern fell into disrepair and was mostly forgotten until European travelers rediscovered it in the 16th century. It’s a popular tourist spot that amazes people worldwide on Basilica Cistern tours with its eerie atmosphere and ancient structures. It’s a place that captures the imagination and leaves a lasting impression on anyone who visits.

Tips for your visit to the Basilica Cistern

  • Arrive Early: Particularly during the most active travel seasons, the Basilica Cistern can get crowded. If you arrive early on the day, you can keep away from the crowd and have a quieter encounter.
  • Put on Comfortable Shoes: When visiting the Basilica Cistern, to guarantee a safe exploration, wear comfortable shoes as the ground inside can get wet and dangerous.
  • Act Appropriately: Since the Basilica Cistern is a significant historic site, visitors are kindly requested to behave respectfully by refraining from speaking loudly or causing disturbances.
  • Bring some Cash: While you can use your Visa to purchase tickets, it’s always wise to have cash on hand for any additional purchases you may need to make.
  • Enjoy the Experience: The Basilica Cistern guided tour is designed with many unique features. It’s important to take your time and soak in the atmosphere, appreciate the beauty of the Medusa heads, and understand the significance of this ancient wonder to history. Rushing through may cause you to miss special details and unexpected but valuable treasures.

Basilica Cistern Tickets

Tickets for the Basilica Cistern can be bought at the site entrance. Seniors and students often receive discounts, and Basilica Cistern tickets price vary based on age and country. The average price for entrance per person is 600 Turkish Lira, while children under the age of eight can enter without any charges. Additionally, audio guides are available for an extra cost, providing helpful commentary as you explore the cistern.

Visitors also have the option to purchase combination tickets, which offer discounted entry to multiple Sultanahmet attractions. These combo tickets are a great choice for those who want to visit several local attractions like the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and Basilica Cistern without needing to buy separate tickets for each one.

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How to arrive at the Basilica Cistern

Located in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet area, the Basilica Cistern is easily accessible on foot from other popular tourist spots like the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. The cistern can be reached conveniently by taxi, public transportation, or walking. The entrance to the cistern is just a short walk from Sultanahmet, the closest tram stop.

Public Transportation: To reach the Basilica Cistern, head to Sultanahmet, the nearest tram stop. From there, you can take the tram, leading you through the city’s charming streets. The Sultanahmet stop is only a brief walk from the cistern. 

By Taxi: The yellow taxis of Istanbul are readily available throughout the city and provide door-to-door service to the entrance of the cistern. You can easily reach your destination by hailing a taxi or using ride-hailing apps to request a ride.

By Foot: Stroll down the charming streets of Sultanahmet to reach the Basilica Cistern. As you walk past quaint cafes, lively markets, and old buildings, you can’t help but feel the vibrancy of this famous area on a Basilica Cistern walking tour.

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