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Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

#3 of 5,736 in Things to do in Turkey
Must see · Ruin · Architectural Building
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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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
31,260 reviews
  • An impressive underground place built by the Byzantines to serve as a water tank (deposit) for the city of Constantin (Constantinople). The Byzantines (the Romans from East) built to last forever...  more »
  • One of the absolute must-see places in the city, despite the fact that there are hundreds of water storages in this city, water has always been a problem.this is the largest water cistern built to...  more »
  • This is one of my BEST experiences in Istanbul. If i can give it a 10 star i would. The whole atmosphere and interior of the whole space is just beyond your imagination. I would definitely recommend to buy the pictures as they dress you up in the authentic Turkish costumes. I still have it as an amazing souvenir. I loved every minute of this.
  • Cool place! I enjoyed wandering through the columns with the eerie soundtrack they played. The lighting was effective and really added to the experience. It is excellent value for money, but watch your step, it's very slippery down there. The wishing pool is a place to those a coin in and make a wish, only there was no pool, the water was very low. I know this is completely out of their control and my rating does not include this. I just thought it was funny watching people throwing money onto concrete and hoping something magical will happen. Definitely good you're in the area.

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