Basilica Cistern Tickets
Tickets
English
EUR
Contents

Basilica Cistern Medusa Heads: Exploring A Mystery

Built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, the Basilica Cistern was designed to reserve water for the Imperial Palace and its surrounding areas. It attracts attention from all over the world, especially for its unconventionally placed Medusa heads, which adds an air of mystery and intrigue to the attraction. Keep reading to learn all about these mysterious Basilica Cistern Medusa heads.

Why visit the Basilica Cistern Medusa Heads?

Who was Medusa?

Medusa was a character from Greek mythology known for her snake-like hair and the ability to turn people into stone just by looking at them. She used to be a beautiful woman, but the goddess Athena cursed her after the sea god Poseidon violated her in Athena's temple. As punishment, her hair became snakes, and anyone who looked at her face turned to stone. Eventually, a hero named Perseus killed her while she was asleep by using a mirror-like shield to avoid her gaze and cut off her head.

Many believe that the way the heads were positioned inside the Basilica Cistern might have been on purpose to prevent them from turning people into stone.

 The mystery of the Medusa heads in the Basilica Cistern

mystery of the Medusa heads in the Basilica Cistern



Book Basilica Cistern tickets

Skip-the-Line Tickets to Basilica Cistern
Extended Validity
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
Flexible Duration
Audio Guide
More details
Guided Tour of Basilica Cistern with Skip-the-Line Tickets
Free Cancellation
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
1 hr.
Audio Guide
More details
Combo: Basilica Cistern + Blue Mosque + Hagia Sophia Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Tickets
Free Cancellation
Extended Validity
Instant Confirmation
4 hr.
Guided Tour
More details
Combo: Hagia Sophia Guided Tour with Optional Topkapi Palace or Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Tickets
Free Cancellation
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
Flexible Duration
Audio Guide
More details
Combo (Save 5%): Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Tickets with Audio Guide + Bosphorus Daytime or Sunset Cruise
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
Flexible Duration
Audio Guide
More details
Istanbul Top Museums 3-Day Pass: Guided Tour with Entry Tickets
Free Cancellation
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
Flexible Duration
Guided Tour
More details
Combo (Save 12%): Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Tickets + Busforus 1-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour of Istanbul
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
Flexible Duration
Audio Guide
More details
from
€54.60

Frequently asked questions about Basilica Cistern Medusa Heads

Where can I buy tickets to see the Basilica Cistern Medusa?

You do not have to book separate tickets to see the Medusa Heads. You can purchase Basilica Cistern tickets and explore the columns to get up close with the Medusa Heads.

Can I see the Medusa heads with Basilica Cistern tickets?

Yes, you can see the Medusa Heads with your Basilica Cistern tickets

Who designed the Basilica Cistern Medusa Heads?

It is believed that an architect named Tralles from the Byzantine era planned the Basilica Cistern. Emperor Justinian commissioned the cistern, and 7000 slaves worked on it for around 38 years to complete the construction. 

When were the Basilica Cistern Medusa Heads built?

The Medusa Heads are believed to have been repurposed from an ancient Roman building. They were installed in the 6th century AD during the construction of the Basilica Cistern. 

Where are the Basilica Cistern Medusa Heads located?

Two Medusa heads are positioned below columns on the northwest side of the Basilica Cistern. It is not exactly known from where these structures were sourced, but most people believe them to be a part of an ancient Roman building. 

What are the timings of the Basilica Cistern?

You can explore the Basilica Cistern anytime between 9 AM and 7 PM. It is open throughout the week. 

Do I have to follow a dress code to enter the Basilica Cistern?

While there is no Basilica Cistern dress code but since the floors are damp and slippery, it is best to wear covered and non-slippery shoes to prevent any accidents.

What can I see inside the Basilica Cistern?

You can see 336 columns, 2 Medusa Heads, artworks, and several arches inside the Basilica Cistern. It is said that one of the columns, which has peacock and leafy carvings, was erected in memory of the 7000 slaves, who worked hard to build the byzantine cistern. Many lost their lives during the 38-year construction period. 

Can I just walk into the Basilica Cistern?

No, you need to buy  Basilica Cistern tickets to explore the attraction. You can buy in skip-the-line tickets that come with an audio guide to avoid standing in long lines and make your experience a more informative one.