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Basilica Cistern Tickets

Visit the Basilica Cistern, one of the largest ancient water cisterns in Turkey. It is the perfect model of Byzantine architecture and is home to interesting attractions such as Hen’s Eye Column and Medusa Pillar Bases. Book Basilica Cistern tickets here to enjoy skip-the-line entry and guided tours.

Open today

9:00 AM - 10:00 PM

Recommended Duration

2 hours

Basilica Cistern Tickets

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Skip-the-Line Tickets to Basilica Cistern

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Duration
Flexible
1 hr
4 hrs
Inclusions

Skip-the-line entry to the Basilica Cistern

Multilingual audio guide (optional)

Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia English guided tour (optional)

Expert English-speaking guide

Skip the line ticket to Basilica Cistern

Hagia Sophia guided tour (optional)

Blue Mosque guided tour (optional)

Audio guide app in 8 languages

Basilica Cistern

30-min guided tour of the Basilica Cistern

Skip-the-line ticket to Basilica Cistern

Expert English-speaking guide

Blue Mosque

60-min guided tour of the Blue Mosque

Entry to the Blue Mosque

English-speaking guide

Hagia Sophia

60-min guided tour of Hagia Sophia

Skip-the-line tickets to Hagia Sophia

English-speaking tour guide

Audio guide inside Hagia Sophia

Cancellation policy
These tickets can't be cancelled. However, you can use them any time until 23 Jan, 2025.
You can cancel these tickets up to 24 hours before the experience begins and get a full refund.
You can cancel these tickets up to 24 hours before the experience begins and get a full refund.

About Basilica Cistern

Explore the Basilica Cistern, a massive 6th-century Byzantine water reservoir. Emperor Justinian I initiated its construction to ensure water supply to the Great Palace of Constantinople. Its intriguing features, like the Weeping Column and Medusa's Heads, echo Istanbul’s centuries-old history.


Address
Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
Also known as
Yerebatan Sarnıcı, Sunken Palace, Subterranean Palace
Year opened
532
Founded by
Emperor Justinian
Visitor’s per year
2200000
Expected wait time - Standard
30-60 mins (Peak), 0-30 mins (Off Peak)

Why visit Basilica Cistern?

Did you know?
  • The Basilica Cistern is named after the large public square called Stoa Basilica, which was located above it at the surface level.
  • According to historical accounts, it is believed that about 7,000 slaves worked on the construction of the Basilica Cistern.
  • The Basilica Cistern has withstood around 22 major earthquakes since it was constructed, proof of the exceptional skills of its Byzantine builders.
  • Many of the 336 marble columns supporting the cistern were salvaged and repurposed from even older Greek and Roman temples and ruins.
  • The presence of the Basilica Cistern and other connected water cisterns allowed Constantinople to remain unconquered by enemy sieges for around 1,000 years.

Travel Guides and Tips

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Tari Endre
HU

Tari

5/5
Hungary
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This underground basilica, built as a reservoir, is fantastic!!!!! Incredible, but really incredible in size! There is also an interesting light show . What could be improved is to have more language and better visible signs. It was very easy to get in without queuing! It's also very nice that if you open the ticket during the internet, it opens later without internet. I recommend it to everyone!
This review is translated. Show original review.
Skip-the-Line Tickets to Basilica Cistern with Audioguide & Optional Guided Tour
Judith Forcada Segarra

Judith

5/5
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The speed with which we were able to enter and the explanations about the Cistern Basilica. We had read them beforehand so that we could take a closer look at the details.
View original review in Spanish
Skip-the-Line Tickets to Basilica Cistern with Audioguide & Optional Guided Tour
Thomas M Ireland
US

Thomas

5/5
United States
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One the guide was cheerful and helpful. He provided insights to the cistern construction and dispelled some myths as well. We had read some terrible reviews of this tour but only have positive feedback. The venu is beautiful but the guide made the experience.
Skip-the-Line Ticket to Basilica Cistern with Guided Tour
Nadezda Vorobjova

Nadezda

5/5
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We had a great experience with the guided tour. We were lucky as it wes only 2 of us, so our tour was like a private one and we can ask a lot of questions about Basilica Cisterna.
Skip-the-Line Ticket to Basilica Cistern with Guided Tour
Lanore Larson
US

Lanore

5/5
United States
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The guides were awesome, beginning with Cenker who was unbelievably patient with clueless tourists who had all sorts of issues (no pass, wrong date, etc). His tour to the Hagia Sophia was great. He and the other guides were professional and cool handling that, then enthusiastic in their guiding. They were informative and funny when appropriate. They each answered all the questions from tourists. The guide (forget his name) in the Cistern was excellent, as was Mohammed to the Blue Mosque. They each did their best to ensure that our group did not have to wait and had a great experience.
Combo Tour: Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia
Roberto Spertino

Roberto

4/5
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Well organized tour, very knowledgeable guide. Only downside is that the entrance to Hagia Sophia is only for the upper part of the basilica and not the lower part.
View original review in Italian
Combo Tour: Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia
Laura Serrano Esteban

Laura

5/5
Very good organization. We have been with the guide Seda and she has explained everything very well, very well explained. By taking this experience we got rid of the huge queue we had to enter. For future trips I will check this website
View original review in Spanish
Skip-the-Line Ticket to Basilica Cistern with Guided Tour in Spanish
Sergio Velasquez Betancur
CO

Sergio

4/5
Colombia
Fantastic place! Tour Guide very kind! Its a short Visit. About HEadout app, I think Will be better I we can find more information how to go to other cisterns of Istanbul.
Skip-the-Line Ticket to Basilica Cistern with Guided Tour in Spanish

Basilica Cistern Tickets Guide

Basilica Cistern is an ancient subterranean cistern that runs an astonishing 9,800 square meters of surface area. Capable of holding 80,000 cubic meters of water, this gargantuan receptacle was used to supply water to the Constantinople Palace, and for irrigation. It is said that 7000 slaves were used in its construction in the 6th century. Visit this ancient underground cistern to experience its ambient halls and learn about its intriguing history with the best Basilica Cistern tickets.
In our collection of Basilica Cistern tickets, you can choose from skip-the-line tickets to guided tours and combo tickets at great prices. Skip-the-line tickets give you the ability to bypass long queues and head straight inside the cistern. A guided tour ticket will give you access to the attraction along with an expert tour guide who will share interesting insights about the cistern’s fascinating structure and history. A combo ticket on the other hand will allow you access to the Basilica Cistern as well as other attractions in Istanbul. 
Opt for skip-the-line tickets if you are in a hurry and would like to gain swift entrance to the site without standing in the long cumbersome queues. Explore the cavernous reservoir at your own pace with an audio guide in multiple languages. These Basilica Cistern tickets are also priced very modestly. 

Recommended experiences

Go on a Basilica Cistern guided tour to learn about the fascinating history of this marvelous structure with an expert tour guide. Skip the line access is also included in the ticket for added convenience.

Recommended experiences

Visit the Basilica Cistern and see more of the historical city of Istanbul. Ruled under the Byzantines and then the Ottomans, modern-day Istanbul has preserved important structures from these eras that you can view with combo tickets. These tickets are perfect for history enthusiasts and those who want to explore more of the city.

Recommended experiences

If you are on a budget

If you are on a tight budget, we suggest going for skip-the-line tickets. Not only will these tickets give you admission to the site, but they will also get you fast-track access by allowing you to skip the lines while being extremely affordable.

If you are looking for an in-depth tour

Given its tremendous age, the origins of the Basilica Cistern and the significance of its structures are still a topic of much debate among historians. Get unique perspectives into the creation of this Byzantine reservoir by expert tour guides with our guided tour tickets.

If you are looking to explore more in Istanbul

Want to explore more of Istanbul? Then our combo tickets will help you visit the major museums and historical sites that date back to the Byzantine era when the city was known as Constantinople.
What are the opening hours of Basilica Cistern?
The Basilica Cistern is open all days of the week from 9 AM to 7 PM. For guided tours please refer to the schedule on your tickets. 
What is the best time to visit Basilica Cistern?
The best time to visit the Basilica Cistern is immediately after the site opens, between 9 AM and 10 AM in the morning when the site sees fewer crowds at this point in the day. In terms of the time of year, April to May and September to October is considered ideal since the pleasant weather makes sightseeing in the city more comfortable.
How long is a Basilica Cistern tour?
The Basilica Cistern tour can 1 to 2 hours. 
Where is Basilica Cistern located?
The cistern is a 3-minute walk from the Hagia Sophia, located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey. The Basilica Cistern address is - Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey 
Get directions to the location
How do I get to the Basilica Cistern?
You can take the tram to Sultanahamet Square. From there, the site is within walking distance. If you are in Taksim you can opt for the F1 funicular line to Kabatas and then take the T1 tram to Sultanahamet.  
Can I take the metro/train to the Basilica Cistern?
You can take the F1 funicular from Taksim to Kabatas. From Kabatas hop on the T1 tram and head straight to Sultanahamet, where the Basilica Cistern will be within walking distance.   
Can I take the bus to the Basilica Cistern?
To get to the Basicila Cistern you will need to get off at Yerebatan Sarnici. Bus BN1 or TB2 will get you there. 
Is the Basilica Cistern wheelchair accessible?
Yes it is. From Alemdar street there is a platform lift that will take you down the stairs and into the cistern. 
Is storage facility available at the Basilica Cistern?
There are no luggage and storage facilities available at the Basilica Cistern. We suggest avoiding carrying large suitcases and luggage bags while visiting the cistern. 
Is photography permitted at the Basilica Cistern?
Yes, photography is permitted inside Basilica Cistern. Tripods, however, are not allowed. 
Are outside food and drinks permitted inside the Basilica Cistern?
No, food and drinks are not allowed inside the Basilica Cistern as this is a historic and archeological site. 
What are my dining options at the Basilica Cistern?
There are no dining options at the cistern. However, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the surrounding area that you can eat from. We recommend the Basilica Restaurant, the Omar Cafe, and Nars Brasserie for scrumptious Mediterranean and Turkish food. 
Are return transfers included in my Basilica Cistern tickets?
No, return transfers are not included in your Basilica Cistern tickets. 
Is there a dress code to visit the Basilica Cistern?
Unlike most other religious attractions in Istanbul, visiting the Basilica Cistern does not necessitate adherence to a particular dress code. 
What kind of clothing should I wear while visiting the Basilica Cistern?
Wear casual clothing. Please note that the slippery floors of the cistern can be a challenge, so make sure you are wearing appropriate footwear when you visit.
The Basilica Cistern, also known as the Turkish Cistern or the Byzantine Cistern is a structure infused with architecture and technology from various civilizations. While visiting, make sure you don’t miss these must-see parts of the cistern.

Colonnades 

Spread over an area of an entire football field, the Basically Cistern contains 336 columns in total, some with corinthian ornamentations and others plain, however, each one is completely unique. The reason for the distinct nature of these pillars is attributed to the possibility that these pillars were recycled, taken from various parts of the city, and installed in the cistern. 

Medusa heads 

You will find two boulder-sized heads of the mythological figure Medusa at the bottom of two pillars in the Basilica Cistern. Its exact purpose is unknown but is said to be representative of the new gods replacing old ones by the Byzantine regime that took over the region. 

The column of tears 

There is something fantastically riveting about this particular column in the entire cistern. You will notice curious engravings of Turkish eyes all over the length and circumference of this pillar. It is said that it was carved out by the slaves who erected it and is said to have wish-granting abilities.  

Reflecting waters of the cistern 

The waters of the cistern are clear and pristine. Although the structure was said to be able to contain 80,000 cubic meters of water, only a shallow level of water is maintained at the site now. You will find fishes in these waters. It is speculated that fish were used by royals as a safeguard against poisoning. If the fish turned up dead, then you’d know that the water was unsafe. 

Installations 

Since its reopening in 2022, ever so often you will find a temporary installation within these dark chambers, placed there by the administration. These artistic installations complement the cistern so well that you would think that they were permanent parts of the structure.  
When you are done viewing the Basilica Cistern, you might want to check out these other attractions in Istanbul to get the most out of the city. Here are the best things to see in Istanbul:

Hagia Sophia 

Originally built as a cathedral in the 4th century by Byzantine emperor Justinian I, it was later converted into a mosque by the Ottoman Empire in 1453. The structure embodies architecture from both the major religions of the classical Christian period and Islam of the middle ages and is truly marvelous to see. Get Hagia Sophia tickets today to visit this magnificent structure.

Topkapi Palace

The Topkapi Palace Museum is a museum containing imperial collections of the erstwhile Ottoman empire, including a library of books and manuscripts from that era. Once a palatial administrative center, the palace has stunning architecture and interesting exhibits that will take you back to a time of sultans and Turkish regimes.

Blue Mosque 

Constructed in 1616, the Blue Mosque is a testament to the aesthetic genius of the Ottomans. The hand-painted blue tiles make the structure look ethereal in the moonlight, shining off its five main domes and glittering minarets. A visit to this mosque is sure to leave you speechless. 

Galata Tower 

Built in the Byzantine era, this defense outpost was the largest tower along the walls of Galata. It has survived multiple regimes and wars, that have left it renovated and infused with Ottoman and Geonose elements. Climb this 219 ft. tower to get scintillating views of the historic city of Istanbul with Galata Tower tickets.  

Bosphorus Cruises

Hop aboard a cruise boat or yacht and sail the pristine waters of the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul. On these popular Bosphorus cruises, you will get a chance to see the city’s most prized landmarks such as the Dolmabahce Palace, Ortakoy Mosque, and Hagia Sophia while having a delectable meal.

Are Basilica Cistern tickets available online now?

Yes, Basilica Cistern tickets are available online. Book in advance to get your preferred timings on guided tours and skip the line access with our secure bookings.  

What are the different types of Basilica Cistern tickets and tours?

In our Basilica Cistern tickets collection, we have skip-the-line tickets, guided tours tickets, as well as combo tickets. Skip-the-line tickets give you fast-track access to the site. For an in-depth tour you can opt for a guided tour of Basilica Cistern and if you want to see more historical sites in Istanbul, our combo tickets are the ideal choice. 

Is skip-the-line entry included in my Basilica Cistern tickets?

Yes, skip-the-line access is available in our collection of Basilica Cistern tickets.  Skip the line tickets allow to you move past long tickets and waiting queues and head straight to the Basilica Cistern. Please refer to your selected ticket to ensure that this feature is available.   

Are return transfers included in Basilica Cistern tickets?

No, return transfers are not included in Basilica Cistern tickets. 

Are guided Basilica Cistern tours available?

Yes, guided tours are available in our Basilica Cistern ticket collection. Get guided tour tickets or combo tickets to have an in-depth tour of the Basilica Cistern and other attractions by expert tour guides. 

What are Basilica Cistern opening hours/timings?

The Basilica Cistern is open on all days of the week. It opens at 9 AM and closes by 7 PM. For timings on guided tours, you can refer to the schedule mentioned on your tickets.

How do I get to the Basilica Cistern?

You can get to the Basilica Cistern by using trains, buses, trams, and taxis. 
  • Train
    F1 funicular runs from Taksim to Kabatas. Once you have reached Kabatas, you need to get to Sultanahamet, either by tram, bus, or taxi. The cistern is very close to Sultanahamet.
  • Bus 
    Take bus BN1 or TB2 to reach Yerebatan Sarnici, where the cistern is located.
  • Tram
    The Taksim Square Tram T1 will take you from Kabatas to Sultanahmet from where the cistern is within walking distance.   
  • Taxi
    Hail a taxi from either Taksim Square or from your location to reach the Cistern.

What is the best time to visit the Basilica Cistern?

The best time to visit the Basilica Cistern is in the early hours, just when the attraction opens its doors to the public i.e. between 9 AM and 10 AM. To avoid the tremendous heat of the summer, we recommend visiting the cistern between April to May or September to October.

Is the Basilica Cistern wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the site is wheelchair accessible. You will find a platform lift at the entrance that will take you down into Basilica Cistern. Please be cautious as the floors of the cistern can be quite slippery. 

How far is the Basilica Cistern from Hagia Sophia?

Basilica Cistern is 150 meters southwest of the Hagia Sophia. It won’t take more than a 3-minute walk.

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