The Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici) is the largest cistern beneath the city of Istanbul. Basilica Cistern was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian to serve as a water storage for his own palace and other buildings around it. The construction held up with 336 marble carved columns and covering 9,800 square meters, is fascinating, and the two Medusa heads covered with snakes give a mysterious look.
It is now considered one of the most popular attraction places in Istanbul. Located in Alemdar Mh. Yerebatan, very close to the blue mosque, it can take around 30 minutes to walk around and see all the details of Basilica Cistern but it’s worth every minute of your time.
Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern seems like another world beneath modern street level.
The moment you walk downstairs and look around to what it looks like endless columns, it brings an instant effect on your mood. The sound, light effect, water and the overall the surrounding of the place takes you to another world. It is dark but sure pleasant to walk around it away from the hustle and bustle.
Gloomy Byzantine cisterns lie underneath Istanbul, fascinating remains of when the city was known as Constantinople.
When you are finished, enjoy a few other historical sites in the area. When in Istanbul, both the Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia are a must-visit.
Hagia Sophia was an Orthodox Christian church built in the 6th century, later it was turned into an imperial mosque, and now is a museum.
In 1453 the building was converted into an Ottoman mosque until 1931. Since 1935 it has been open to the public as a museum. For its beauty and artistic styles, it is said to have changed the history of architecture. Located on the opposite side of the famous Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), it’s very well preserved.
Basilica Cistern: practical information
Address of the Basilica Cistern: Alemdar Mh. Yerebatan
Entrance fee to the Basilica Cistern: 20 lira per person
Opening hours of the Basilica Cistern: 9 am-5.30 pm
Hagia Sophia: practical information
Opening hours of Hagia Sophia: 9 am-7 pm during summer, until 5 pm during winter
Entrance fee to Hagia Sophia: Ticket price is 40 Lira. Non Turkish citizens’ children 12 years or younger don’t need a ticket unless they want to visit the harem. For the harem 6 years and younger don’t need a ticket.