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Plan Your Visit to the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul | Opening Hours, Location, Visitor Tips & More

Basilica CisternPlan Your Visit

The Basilica Cistern, Turkey, is an underground water storage system that was designed in the 6th century during the Byzantine rule in Istanbul. It had been commissioned by Emperor Justinian I to supply water to the Great Palace of Constantinople and its surrounding areas. Read on to find all the essential information for planning a visit to this underground cistern in Istanbul.

Basilica Cistern at a glance

Basilica Cistern At a Glance

What are the Basilica Cistern’s opening hours?

Basilica Cistern's Opening Hours

Best time to visit the Basilica Cistern

March to May and September to October are the best months to enjoy all that Istanbul offers. While the weather has little bearing on a visit to the Basilica Cistern as the underground is mostly always damp, you can enjoy pleasant walks around Istanbul in autumn and spring. However, these months attract the most number of tourists to Istanbul. You may find it easier to secure cheap deals and discounts on hotels and restaurants if you visit during the low-season winter months.

Where is Basilica Cistern located?

Where is Basilica Cistern Located?

Getting to the Basilica Cistern

Getting to the Basilica Cistern by Public Transport

By public transport

Getting to the Basilica Cistern by Car

By car

The distance from the Istanbul Airport to the Basilica Cistern is 45.4 km.

Parking facilities:

Know before you go

Facilities
Tips
Dine
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Facilities Offered by the Basilica Cistern
  • Accessibility: There are elevators and ramps at the entrance of the Basilica Cistern to help visitors with limited mobility navigate the space. You have to bring your own wheelchair or stroller. 
  • Photography: Yes, you can click pictures inside the Basilica Cistern. However, you must be mindful of your surroundings as the floor is wet and slippery. Try to avoid setting up tripods or other commercial equipment as they may disturb other visitors.
  • ATM: An ATM is available near the entrance of Basilica Cistern.
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: The floor of the cistern is quite slippery, so make sure to wear your most comfortable, closed shoes to explore the interiors. 
  • Mind the stairs: You have to descend around 52 stairs to reach the colonnades in the cistern. Mind your step when descending them. 
  • Carry a cardigan: The Basilica Cistern is underneath the surface, where it is cold, damp, and musty. It is best to carry a light cardigan when visiting the cistern.
  • Follow the photography guidelines: Avoid using tripods and other commercial photography equipment to click pictures as they may disturb other visitors.
  • Reach Early: The Basilica Cistern is a popular attraction and attracts tons of visitors throughout the year. Make sure to reach early in the morning or book your tickets online in advance to reserve your spot. 
Restaurants Near the Basilica Cistern
  • Basilica Restaurant: Situated right across the Basilica Cistern, this restaurant offers delectable food including kebabs and shisha to their guests. (14 m)
  • Omar Restaurant: This establishment near the cistern is known for its Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern, and Turkish cuisine. Their menu is also vegetarian-friendly. (9 m)
  • Nars Brasserie: They have a delectable range of steaks, Spanish, and Middle-Eastern dishes. You can also find vegan, halal, and vegetarian food in this restaurant. (9 m)
  • Sebil Cafe: If you are looking for a wheelchair-accessible cafe that serves Turkish cuisine, head to the Sebil Cafe near the Basilica Cistern. (3.4 km)
  • Adella Seafood Restaurant: This restaurant serves fresh seafood and Mediterranean dishes for its guests. They also have a wine bar. (1.4 km)
  • Cafe Lokum: This is a vegetarian-friendly cafe that serves breakfast, brunch, as well after-hours meals. It also has a bar for its guests. (9 m)
Attractions Near the Basilica Cistern
  • Hagia Sophia: Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Istanbul is a monument, known for its grand dome and blend of Ottoman and Byzantine architectural styles. Once a church, it has later functioned as a mosque, and a museum, and is now a mosque again. 
  • Topkapi Palace: Topkapi Palace is a testament to the splendor and grandeur of the Ottoman Empire. Once the residence of Sultans, it now houses a museum showcasing exquisite artifacts, including precious jewels, ceramics, and manuscripts.
  • Dolmabahce Palace: Constructed in the 19th century, the Dolmabahce Palace served as the administrative center and residence of Ottoman sultans. Its ornate interiors, stunning crystal chandeliers, and waterfront location make it a captivating attraction for visitors.
  • Blue Mosque: Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Blue Mosque, is adorned with exquisite blue tiles and 6 minarets. Its spacious interior, adorned with intricate calligraphy and stunning domes, offers a serene atmosphere for prayer and contemplation.



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Skip-the-Line Tickets to Basilica Cistern
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Guided Tour of Basilica Cistern with Skip-the-Line Tickets
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Combo: Hagia Sophia + Topkapi Palace + Basilica Cistern Guided Tours Tickets
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Combo: Basilica Cistern + Blue Mosque + Hagia Sophia Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Tickets
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Headout Saver: 3-Day Skip-the-Line Tickets to Top Istanbul Attractions
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Combo (Save 9%): Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Tickets + Busforus 1-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Tour of Istanbul
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Frequently asked questions about visiting Basilica Cistern in Istanbul

How do I book tickets to the Basilica Cistern?

You can book your Basilica Cistern tickets online to save time and money. Booking tickets online is convenient as you can do so with just a few clicks from the comfort of your home. 

How much does it cost to visit the Basilica Cistern?

Basilica Cistern skip-the-line tickets are around €24. If you are interested in Byzantine architecture and history, you may also choose the Basilica Cistern guided tour for €26. 

What are the Basilica Cistern’s opening hours?

The Basilica Cistern is open from 9 AM to 10 PM every day of the year.

What is the best time to visit Basilica Cistern?

The months of March to May and September to October are the best months to visit the Basilica Cistern. The weather is comfortable and pleasant, ideal for strolling around the streets of Istanbul. However, these months also attract the highest number of tourists to the city, so make sure to book your Basilica Cistern tickets in advance.

How much time does it take to visit Basilica Cistern?

You can stroll around the long colonnades, look at the Medusa Heads, observe the Weeping Column, and take in the architectural splendor of the Basilica Cistern within around 30 minutes to an hour. 

Where is the Basilica Cistern located?

The Basilica Cistern is located in Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34110 Fatih, Turkey. 

How many entrances are there at the Basilica Cistern?

The Basilica Cistern has one main entrance near the Hagia Sophia.

Is the Basilica Cistern wheelchair accessible?

Basilica Cistern is wheelchair accessible. The entrance has an elevator, from where you can enter the premises. However, please note that the Basilica Cistern has slippery surfaces owing to the water accumulated there, hence it is quite difficult to navigate through the area on wheelchairs.

Is there a dress code to be followed at the Basilica Cistern?

While there is no Basilica Cistern dress code to be followed at the Basilica Cistern, you must wear comfortable, closed shoes when visiting the cistern. The floor is wet and slippery, so you should wear footwear with a good grip. 

Are prams allowed in the Basilica Cistern?

Yes, prams and strollers are allowed in the Basilica Cistern.

Is photography permitted inside the Basilica Cistern?

Yes, you can click pictures inside the Basilica Cistern, however, make sure to not use tripods or other commercial equipment that may disturb other visitors. 

Is there a cloakroom at the Basilica Cistern?

If you have a large trolley, backpack, or extra belongings that you want to drop off before entering the Basilica Cistern, drop them off at Sultanahmet Square or the Sirkeci station. You will find luggage storage spots in these areas. 

Are strollers or wheelchairs available at the Basilica Cistern?

No, you cannot avail of strollers and wheelchairs from the Basilica Cistern. You have to bring your own wheelchair when visiting the cistern.