Frequently Asked Questions About Basilica Cistern

What was the Basilica Cistern used for?

Cisterns were widely used in the Byzantine times as water supply and filtration systems. Basilica Cistern is the city’s oldest water reservoir.

How do I Book Tickets to the Basilica Cistern?

To save time and moneywe recommend booking your Basilica Cistern tickets online. Moreover, online tickets can allow you to skip the line and provide more advantages. Online ticket booking is also convenient, as you can do it with a single click.

>> Book your tickets here in advance 


You can buy skip-the-line tickets online. If you buy your tickets online, you will be given a certain time to go. You can skip the line and get into the cistern at the time you were given.

Why is the Basilica Cistern called "Underground Palace" (Yerebatan Sarayı)?

The Basilica Cistern in Istanbul is large and impressive enough to be compared to a palace. The columns form a colonnaded corridor reminiscent of a palace's halls. The water in the cistern is also unusually still, creating a mirrored surface that adds to the palace image.

How old is the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul?

The Mesmerising Basilica Cistern was built by Emperor Justinian in 532 A.C. So now it is more than 1400 years old!

Do you need tickets for Basilica Cistern in Istanbul?

Yes, Basilica Cistern has an entrance fee. You can buy your tickets on-site or online.
Also, audio guides (7 languages) and guided tour tickets are available (EN-ES) for purchase. You can also enjoy priority access to the attraction with these guided tour tickets.

How much is the entry price for the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul for tourists?

The cost of visiting the Basilica Cistern 
International Visitor: 600 TL
Local Visitors: 80 

This price is for only entrance; it does not cover skip-the-line tickets or a guided tour.

On which days of the week is the Basilica Cistern open to visitors?

The Basilica Cistern is open 7 days a week between 09.00 and 22.00 for visits. Every day of the week, you can visit the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul.

What is the best season to visit Basilica Cistern?

The Basilica Cistern is best visited during the months of March and May, and September and October. The weather is nice and comfortable, making it ideal for walking through Istanbul's streets. However, these months attract the most people to the city, so make sure that you book your online Basilica Cistern tickets far in advance. 

Where is the Basilica Cistern located?

The Basilica Cistern is located on Sultanahmet's Historic Peninsula, a few steps before Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet Square. 

How much time does it take to visit Basilica Cistern?

Take in the architectural splendour of the Basilica Cistern within around 1 hour to 1.5 hours. You can stroll around the long colonnades, look at the Medusa Heads, and observe the Weeping Column.

Are you allowed to take photos inside the Basilica Cistern?

Yes, you are allowed to take photographs inside the Basilica Cistern, with the exception of the staircase area and with tripods and other professional photographic equipment, which may cause disturbance to other visitors.

What is the best way to get to the Basilica Cistern?

The best way to get to Basilica Cistern is by taking the tram - it's cheap and easy, and you'll get to see some of the city as you ride. The nearest tram station is Sultanahmet and Gülhane station. Both are a 7-minutes walk away.

How many entrances are there at the Basilica Cistern?

The Basilica Cistern has two entrances: one near the Hagia Sophia and one near the southwest corner of the space, near the Cistern of Serefiye.

Is the Basilica Cistern wheelchair accessible?

Wheelchairs are accessible at the Basilica Cistern, although getting there is difficult because there is only one lift. If there are two wheelchairs arriving at the same time, the process can take up to 30 minutes.

Are strollers allowed in the Basilica Cistern?

Yes, strollers are allowed in the Basilica Cistern.

Why are the Medusa sculptures upside down in Basilica Cistern?

One Medusa head is lying on its side at the base of a column, while the other is turned upside down; this, according to several myths, is meant to neutralise the creature's power. Myth has it that whoever Medusa looks upon becomes a stone statue. The builders may be looking for a way to avoid Medusa's curse.

What is the largest cistern in the world?

The Basilica Cistern is the largest cistern in all of the world. There are several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul, Turkey.

Why is the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul famous for?

Istanbul is home to numerous cisterns, among which the Basilica Cistern stands out for its notable architectural features, including expansive constructions, antique columns, and the presence of Medusa heads.

Is there a dress code at Basilica Cistern?

There is no dress code while visiting the Basilica Cistern, although the cistern lies below ground, where it is chilly, wet, and humid. When visiting the cistern, it is advised to bring a light sweater. The steel pathway can be challenging, so wear your most comfortable, closed shoes when exploring this unique place.

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