Complete Guide to Visit Basilic Cistern in Istanbul | Timings, Location, Tips & More
Tucked away beneath the homes and buildings of Istanbul, lies one of the most majestic historic attractions in the city, the Basilica Cistern. The Basilica Cistern is the largest cistern in Istanbul. Visitors who visit the Basilica Cistern are promised a mystical voyage through time, and for this reason, every year, millions of people visit the Basilica Cistern. Besides, the Basilica Cistern's 336 nine-meter-long columns and two Medusa heads leave a lasting impression on visitors.
Planning a trip to this well-known attraction may be confusing. Hence, we've gathered all the information you need to plan your visit to Basilica Cistern in this article.
Basilica Cistern Opening Hours
- General Timings: The Basilica Cistern is open from 9 AM to 7 PM every day of the week.
- Special Timings: The historic landmark opens at 1 PM on special occasions like New Year's Day or religious holidays.
Basilica Cistern is open every day. The opening hours are from 09:00 AM to 7:00 PM. However, the attraction closes at 5:30 PM in the winter and 6:30 PM in the summer.Know More
Best Time to Visit | Basilica Cistern
The months of November through March are the ideal times to explore Istanbul's Basilica Cistern. In the summer, it is advised that you visit the Basilica Cistern between 9 to 10 in the morning because the daytime hours are typically less crowded. Istanbul is at its best from November to March, when the city enjoys great winter weather that makes exploring the city enjoyable.
Besides, to avoid crowds, you can plan to visit the attraction either just after it opens for the public in the morning or before the attraction closes in the evening.
Where is the Basilica Cistern?
Address: Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey [Find on Map]
The Cistern is located around 150 meters southwest of Hagia Sophia on Istanbul's renowned Sarayburnu peninsula, near the Blue Mosque.
How to Get to the Basilica Cistern?
By Public Transport
Tram: You can reach Sultanahmet from Kabatas via the Taksim Square Tram T1. Sultanahmet is the closest stop.
Taxi: Taking a taxi is the most convenient way to get from Istanbul Airport to Basilica Cistern. If you want to use a taxi, you can get to the Basilica Cistern in 30-35 minutes. Although you may get a taxi outside the airport, there are other online apps available.
Train: There is a direct train from Istanbul to the Basilica Cistern. It travels from Aksaray to Sultanahmet.
You can also reach the attraction by car or even hire a taxi from the place of your stay.
Parking facilities: There are several parking facilities near the Cistern. Some of them are:
Dalbasti parking - 400 m far from the attraction.
İspark 540 - 400 m far from the attraction.
Kabasakal Medrese Önü - 400 m far from the attraction.
Know Before You Go
- Gift Shops: The Basilica Cistern is close to several gift shops given its central location in Istanbul. In these shops, you may buy a wide variety of souvenirs and collectibles.
- Cloak Rooms: Several cloakrooms will help you keep your luggage safely as you roam around.
- There is a lift that enables visitors with wheelchairs to access the attraction close to the Alemdar Street tram line.
- Please be aware that wheelchairs cannot be accessed by the entrance stairs.
- The cistern is difficult to navigate in a wheelchair because it is so wet and slick.
- There are child-friendly restaurants in Sultanahmet, which is just a 5 min walk far from the Basilica Cistern.
- The restrooms near the attractions also have feeding rooms.
- In addition to your Basilica Cistern tickets, there are guided tours and audio guides available to make your visit memorable.
- Inside the Basilica Cistern, you are permitted to snap images using a camera or mobile phone. However, carrying a tripod is not permitted inside.
- Please make sure that you wear clothing that covers your knees and arms because Istanbul is a very religious city.
The Basilica Cistern is located at the center of Istanbul There are various restaurants near the attraction. Some of them are:
- Adella Seafood Restaurant - Seafood Cuisine
- Basilica Restaurant - European, Turkish, Mediterranean Cuisine
- Nars Brasserie - Turkish Cuisine
There are several hotels nearby the attraction. Some of the best stay options are:
- The And Hotel - 1 min walk away from the Basilica Cistern
- Vogue Hotel Supreme Istanbul - 1 min walk away from the Basilica Cistern
- Antusa Design Hotel & Spa - 400 meters away from the Basilica Cistern
Topkapi Palace: A must-see area of the Topkapi Palace is the Imperial Harem, which served as the residence for the Ottoman rulers' numerous consorts. The Topkapi dagger and the famed Spoonmaker's diamond, which are kept in this palace's museum portion, are both extremely significant historical objects.
Blue Mosque: The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also referred to as the Blue Mosque, is renowned for its interior ceramic artwork, central dome, minarets, marble buildings, and landscape art.
Hagia Sophia: The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque is a living reminder of Istanbul's shifting dynasties. The Hagia Sophia, which was initially constructed as a Greek Orthodox church, is today a magnificent mosque and museum.Attractions in Istanbul
On the northwest side of the Basilica Cistern, the 336 columns are supported by two Medusa heads that serve as their bases. The cave once could accommodate 80,000 cubic meters of water. It is believed that the two heads of Medusa appeared from the cavern's floor after the water had subsided. The real fact behind the head of the Gorgon monster is still a mystery.
An independent pillar had been sculpted to honor the 7000 slaves who had died while working on the Basilica Cistern. It has peacocks, trees, and branches carved into its surface, earning it the name "Weeping Pillar." Additionally, it has angled branches and tears that mimic a hen's eye.
The Basilica Cistern's stunning stone construction provides visitors with a unique travel experience. The colonnades are a visible reminder of Istanbul's multiethnic past and evoke memories of their Roman origins. The soft lighting illuminates the deep cavern and gives it a sinister feel.
To explore the eerie depths of the Cistern, you must descend 52 steps. Even though the water was drained during the repair, you can still see a few carp leisurely swimming in the shallows. The Yerebatan Palace, as the locals affectionately refer to it, is well-lit and stands magnificently as a historical wonder of the past.
- Bring enough cash to purchase the entry ticket because debit and credit cards are not accepted.
- The Basilica Cistern does not accept museum passes that provide you access to other museums.
- Because of its darkness and dampness, the underground cistern may get colder than usual. A lightweight cardigan should always be in your bag for warmth. However, bear in mind that you may need to do a lot of walking throughout the Basilica Cistern trip, so dress comfortably.
- You may need at least 1 hour and 30 minutes to explore the Cistern.
Book Basilica Cistern Tickets & Tours
Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting the Basilica Cistern
A. The Basilica Cistern is located near the Hagia Sophia, Faith, Istanbul.
A. Yes. Anyone can visit the Basilica Cistern.
A. The Basilica Cistern is Istanbul's most renowned architectural wonder. This Cistern, which dates to the sixth century, is a prime illustration of the incredible engineering of the East Roman Empire.
A. The best time to visit Basilica Cistern is spring (March to May) and fall (September to November).
A. No. You need to buy the tickets to visit the Basilica Cistern.
A. You can book your Basilica Cistern tickets online to enjoy a hassle-free visiting experience.
A. The entrance cost to the Basilica Cistern is 190 Turkish Lira. Visitors with disabilities and one companion can enter FREE of charge.
A. The best time to view the attraction is just after the attraction opens and the time near the end of the closure time.
A. The Basilica Cistern is open from 09:00 AM in the morning to 7:00 PM.
A. Yes. You can visit the Basilica Cistern in a group and even book group guided tours.
A. Yes. You can visit the Cistern with the kids.
A. Yes. Close to the Alemdar Street tram line, there is a lift that enables visitors in wheelchairs to access the attraction. However, accessing the whole Cistern is difficult for wheelchair users.
A. It takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes to explore the Basilica Cistern.
A. Yes. Basilica Cistern captures the spirit of Istanbul and it is astounding evidence of the Byzantine Empire's sophisticated water system.