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Istanbul Sights

Yerebatan Sarnıcı (Basilica Cistern)

  • Yerebatan Cad. at Divan Yolu Map It
  • Sultanahmet
  • Archaeological Site/Ruins
  • Fodor's Choice

Updated 11/19/2013

Fodor's Review

The major problem with the site of Byzantium was the lack of fresh water, and so for the city to grow, a great system of aqueducts and cisterns was built, the most famous of which is the Basilica Cistern, whose present form dates to the reign of Justinian in the 6th century. A journey through this ancient underground waterway takes you along dimly lit walkways that weave around 336 marble columns rising 26 feet to support Byzantine arches and domes, from which water drips

unceasingly. The two most famous columns feature upturned Medusa heads. The cistern was always kept full as a precaution against long sieges, and fish, presumably descendants of those that arrived in Byzantine times, still flit through the dark waters. A hauntingly beautiful oasis of cool, shadowed, cathedral-like stillness (with Turkish instrumental music playing softly in the background), the cistern is a particularly relaxing place to get away from the hubbub of the Old City. Come early to avoid the long lines and have a more peaceful visit.

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Sight Information


Yerebatan Cad. at Divan Yolu, Istanbul, Turkey

Map It



Sight Details:

  • 10 TL
  • Apr–Oct., daily 9–6:30; Nov.–Mar., daily 9–5:30

Updated 11/19/2013


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Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating

By Pauline

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Apr 29, 2004


This place,Hagia Sophia, all the mosques are offering what Pisa Tower or Champs-Elysées can't.Istanbul is simply magical...Don't spend your time only in old Istanbul and in it's spice odoured bazaars but go to districts like Nisantasi,or Etiler beyond Taksim or Bagdat Caddesi in the asian side which may surprise you very much by it's modernity and richness.If you have time GO TO PRINCESS ISLANDS UNBELIEVABLE AMBIANCE DON'T MISS IT...

By helen

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  • Décor

  • Value

Jan 5, 2004

Timeless beauty

Absolutely stunning and gorgeous. Peace and tranquility, soothing and calm. Nicely restored, even has a cafe so you can sit and appreciate the sight.

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