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Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

4.4
#3 of 5,994 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
30,943 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • Amazing place, amazing atmosphere, amazing technological achievement of that era, won't take up much of your time, right across the Hagia Sofia museum!  more »
  • Underground adventure, you can do it in less than 45 minutes, good experience, should be cheaper than 20 lira as there's not much to see apart from a few pillars and columns  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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