Basilica Cistern (Guided Tour)
#5 in Istanbul
The Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul. Visit the Underground Palace (Yerebatan Saray), as it was known by the Ottomans, and experience the wonder of the vast cistern for yourself. You'll either feel transported back in time or onto the set of the blockbuster film "Inferno" as your guide explains the history behind interesting features such as the Medusa head pillar bases. Bring on the adventure!
Hours & Schedule
- Monday: 09:00 and 16:00
- Tuesday: 09:00, 12:00 and 16:00
- Wednesday to Sunday: 09:00, 12:00, 14:30, 16:45
The approximate duration is 30 minutes
Please meet your guide at the meeting point 10 minutes before the tour start time.
How To Get There?
Where to meet
The meeting point for the Basilica Cistern guided tour is the main bus stop for the Big Bus Tour Company at Sultanahmet Square. Look out for the dark red double-decker buses. It's about 20 metres (65 ft) in front of the Hagia Sophia Museum.
To get to Sultanahmet Square, take the T1 Bağılar - Kabataş tram and get off at Sultanahmet station. Walk towards Hagia Sophia and keep an eye out for the Big Bus stop.
- The guided tours are performed in English.
- The tour starts at the Big Bus Company bus stop in Sultanahmet. Click "Get Directions" above to find the location on Google Maps.
- The tour doesn't require a reservation in advance.
- Istanbul Tourist Pass holders do not pay admission at the Basilica Cistern.
- Children will be asked to present their valid passport at the entrance of the museums in order to validate their age.
- Please note that this attraction cannot be accessed directly by presenting the digital Pass at the museum. You need to enter with the tour guide.
- The museum is closed for visits for half-day on the first day of Ramadan and Sacrifice Festivals.
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The Basilica (Yerebatan) Cistern was built by the Byzantine Emperor I. Justinian in 527-565. It is named “Yerebatan Cistern” in Turkish and has countless marble columns rising through the water. It is also known as the Basilica Cistern because there was once a Basilica at the site of the Cistern. If you're wondering about the building of Basilica Cistern, you're in the right place. The cistern, which has a storage capacity of 100000 tons of water, has 336 columns with a height of 9 meters. The length of the cistern is 140 meters and the width is 70 meters. There are 52 stone steps and stairs to the cistern.
Why was the Basilica Cistern built?
The Basilica Cistern, which met most of the water requirements in the region during the Byzantine period, was used for a while during the Ottoman period. The garden of Topkapi Palace was irrigated with water in the cistern. However, due to differing religious beliefs, the cistern was eventually closed. The cistern, which was rediscovered in later excavations, is a historical building that attracts attention all over the world. That it was used for centuries by two different civilizations makes the cistern even more magical. The Basilica Cistern welcomes hundreds of thousands of tourists every day. Today, the Basilica Cistern is used as a museum and fascinates its visitors. On some days, the Cistern hosts special events and concerts. You can have a great time at these events.
Basilica Cistern Medusa Head
The Basilica Cistern Medusa Head, one of the Roman sculptures, is located to the northwest of the cistern. It is not known from where the heads of Medusa were brought but there are many rumors about it. In Greek mythology, there are many interpretations. According to the most famous of the legends, Medusa was one of the most beautiful women of ancient times with jet black eyes and long hair. Medusa, who was in love with Zeus' son Perseus, was cursed by the jealous Athena. Medusa's long hair turned into a snake and her gaze began to turn men who dared to look at her to stone. According to another rumor, the purpose of the Medusa Heads is to protect the area. It is mentioned that the head of Medusa is one of 3 female monsters in the underground world of mythological beings. According to researchers, the Medusa Head was used to fix the cisterns on the ground.
The Basilica Cistern is one of the must-see historical buildings during your trip to Istanbul. Basilica Cistern is a place that fascinates visitors with its interesting architecture. The best time to visit the Basilica Cistern is after your Hagia Sophia tour. Would you like to explore the Basilica Cistern with a tour? If yes, take the Basilica Cistern tour with a guide.
Where is the Basilica Cistern Located?
The Basilica Cistern southwest of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. It is very close to historical buildings such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Sultanahmet Square. The entrance fee to the Basilica Cistern is 5 TL for students, 10 TL for adults and 20 TL for foreign travelers. You cannot enter the Basilica Cistern with a museum card. The Basilica Cistern opening time is 7 days a week between 09.00-17.30. The Basilica Cistern opens at different times on days of Turkish religious festivals.
The Basilica Cistern is at Sultanahmet Square. You can use the tram that runs between Kabataş-Zeytinburnu to reach the historical building with the Hagia Sophia Museum on one side and the Blue Mosque on the other. After arriving at the Sultanahmet tram stop, the cistern is a short walk away. If you prefer to use other public transportation, you can get on the public buses to Eminonu and then walk.If you want to use your own car to go to the cistern on the Historic Peninsula, you can choose from the parking lots around Topkapi Palace or Eminonu. Or, if you wish, you can buy the Basilica Cistern Tour from istanbultouristpass.com, you can come to the Basilica Cistern by joining the tour from the closest meeting point. Get ready for a day full of history with istanbultouristpass.com.
Basilica Cistern Tour
Whether you have come to Istanbul for tourist or business purposes, would you like to visit the Basilica Cistern? If you want to visit the Basilica Cistern with the professional tours of istanbultouristpass.com, you can choose the Basilica Cistern Tour. If you have little time and you are thinking about the time to visit the Basilica Cistern, you can visit the cistern in 1 hour with the tour. If you ask about the ticket price is Basilica Cistern, a 1-hour tour is 10 Euro. You can get detailed information about the Basilica Cistern from our expert guides. You can easily sign in by buying Basilica Cistern online tickets. You can get a pass to visit Istanbul's top attractions and see the Hagia Sophia, Dolmabahce Palace, Topkapi Palace, as well as the Basilica Cistern Museum Pass and the Basilica Cistern. Yerebatan Cistern is one of the places you must see when you come to Istanbul. Get ready to be captivated by its magnificent architecture. The magic of the Cistern will impress you as soon as you descend the stairs. You can feel like you’re walking on water while walking among the cisterns, watching the fish ponds and experiencing history. Throughout the tour, you will have the opportunity to explore the cistern from a different perspective by listening to different legendary stories. You can make a wish by throwing coins into the water in the cistern. The atmosphere of the cisterns, fixed with Medusa heads, is different. The Basilica Cistern creates a feeling of being in a utopian world. You will feel lucky to see the Basilica Cistern. You should enjoy every moment that you spend in the cistern.
Like the Basilica Cistern, if you want to see new things under the ground and in the dark, we have two new suggestions for you: Dialogue in the Silence Tour and Dialogue in the Dark Tour are free with Istanbul Tourist Pass.
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