Basilica Cistern

You´ll witness the grandeur of the past and the fascinating mysteries that lie beneath the surface of this remarkable city. Built by Emperor Justinian I between 527-565, this underground reservoir is like a time machine, often called the "Sunken Palace." Turkish people calls “Yerebatan Sarnici”.

Updated Date : 20.12.2023


Discovering the Basilica Cistern is a place filled with ancient stories hidden below the busy city. The cistern is like a big room with tall columns and mysterious statues. Long ago, an emperor named Justinian I built it, and later, a Frenchman named Petrus Gyllius found it again. Thanks to the Istanbul E-pass, your visit becomes easy. With the pass, you can skip the lines and enjoy guided tours, making exploring the Basilica Cistern simple and fun. Making your visit even more enjoyable is the Istanbul E-pass. It's like a magic ticket that lets you skip lines and learn cool things from guided tours. So, come along and use the Istanbul E-pass to make your journey into the Basilica Cistern simple and full of excitement.

Made of Marble

Built where the Stoa Basilica used to stand, the Basilica Cistern is impressive. It has 336 marble columns, each 9 meters tall. These columns, in different styles like Corinthian, hold up the huge structure that can store 80,000 tons of water. It's the biggest covered cistern in Istanbul, stretching 140 meters long and 70 meters wide.

Water for the City

For a long time, the cistern made sure water reached the Great Palace and other buildings. Water from the Hadrianus Aqueduct flowed through the 336 columns, spaced 4.80 meters apart. This setup shows how smart the Byzantine engineers were.

Lost and Found

In the 16th century, a French guy named Petrus Gyllius rediscovered the cistern. Even though locals knew about it, it had been forgotten. Gyllius measured it, counted the columns, and wrote about how people used to get water and row boats inside. Over time, the cistern got repaired by the Ottomans and others.

Mysterious Medusa

During a cleanup in 1985-1987, they found something cool Medusa heads! Used as bases for columns, these Roman sculptures add a mystical touch. Placed horizontally and upside down, the Medusa heads still make people curious.

Now a Museum

After fixing it up in 1987, the Basilica Cistern became a museum. Managed by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, it's not just a place for old things. They also show temporary exhibitions, cultural events, and art performances. The museum is now a big part of Istanbul's culture.

Easy Exploration with E-pass

To have a smooth visit, use an Istanbul E-pass. It helps you skip lines at the Basilica Cistern and gives you guided tours. These tours share stories about the cistern's past and its interesting features. Click here to book Basilica Cistern guided tour and enjoy skip the line access!

Basilica Cistern must-see for anyone curious about the city's hidden gems. Explore the fascinating Basilica Cistern in Istanbul, hidden beneath the bustling streets. Marvel at the tall marble columns and the mysterious Medusa, as you journey through the city's rich history. Learn about Emperor Justinian I, the rediscovery by Petrus Gyllius, and the restoration efforts by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. For a hassle-free visit, use the Istanbul E-pass. Skip the lines, enjoy guided tours, and immerse yourself in the wonders of this underground treasure. Don't miss out on this extraordinary experience – the Basilica Cistern awaits your discovery with the convenience of the Istanbul E-pass!

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