Basilica Cistern Entrance Fee and Opening Hours


Underground Basilica Cistern

Istanbul Basilica Cistern Entrance Fee and Opening Hours

Basilica Cistern is also known as Yerebatan Sarayı “Sunken Palace” in Turkey. Look like an elegant palace buried under the ground. The building is restored in 1987 after the removal of several hundred years’ worth of mud and rubbish. This unique building serves as a museum today.

Istanbul Underground Basilica Cistern
Istanbul Basilica Cistern Entrance Fee

Basilica Cistern Entrance Fee, Opening Hours 2018

Istanbul Byzantine Cistern History

Beneath modern day Istanbul, there are hundreds of gloomy cisterns. They are left from the days when Istanbul was Constantinople. Most of the large and important Byzantine buildings had storage of water beneath the structure in the past.

Today they provide a bizarre attraction, in the form of dimly lit underground chamber. Such as Binbirdirek Sarnıcı, Şerefiye Sarnıcı (soon will be opened) and the Basilica Cistern.

The grandest of all is the Basilica Cistern so called because it lay beneath the Stoa Basilica, a grand Byzantine public square. Building’s cathedral like ceiling supported by 336 columns, 9 metres (27 feet) high of varying style and origin.

Basilica Cistern Wish Pool And Tear Column
Istanbul Basilica Cistern Opening Hours

Basilica Cistern Tear Column – Istanbul Basilica Cistern Entrance Fee

Cistern measuring 138 meters long and 65 meters wide, covering nearly 1000 square meters (2.4 acres); its capacity (80,000 cubic meters)

Sean Connery’s James Bond and Dan Brown’s Inferno

You might remember the scene in the old James Bond movie From Russia With Love when Sean Connery is rowing in a small boat through a jungle of marble columns. That scene was filmed in Underground Cistern. Cistern is also a part of Dan Brown’s last novel Inferno.

Basilica Cistern is built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian (532). The cistern stored water for the Great Palace of Byzantine Emperors and nearby buildings. The Ottomans used it to supply water for Topkapı Palace in short term. Then people forgot its existence.

Rediscovery of the Basilica Cistern

Lost for a hundred year, it was rediscovered in 1545 by Petrus Gyllius. The French traveller who came to Constantinople in search of Byzantine monuments. Petrus Gyllius noticed that local people got their water by lowering buckets through some holes, moreover fishing from the underground water. He found an entrance and then put it back on his map.

Istanbul Basilica Cistern Medusa Heads
Istanbul Underground Basilica Cistern Medusa Heads

Istanbul Basilica Cistern Medusa Heads

Walkways and atmospheric lighting were installed recently, so you can see all its secret corners. Soft music plays to create a mystic mood.

Basilica Cistern Entrance Fee 2019

Basilica Cistern admission fee is 20 Turkish Lira per person. Children under the age of 8 is free of charge. Please note that Basilica Cistern ticket price should be paid in cash. Credit card is not used here!

Basilica Cistern Opening Hours 2019

Basilica Cistern is open from 09:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. during the high season. (1st of April to 30th of October) The museum closes at 5:30 p.m. for the winter season.

Istanbul Museum Pass For Basilica Cistern?

Istanbul Museum Pass is not used for Basilica Cistern. If you want to check the list of the museums that you can use the Museum Pass, please check Istanbul Museum Pass article.

Where Is Istanbul Basilica Cistern Located?

Basilica Cistern is located in the center of Sultanahmet (Istanbul Old City). Just 5 minutes to Sultanahmet Tram Station. Within 5 minutes walking distance from the Hagia Sophia Museum.

How To Get To Istanbul Underground Basilica Cistern Map
How to get to Istanbul Basilica Cistern Map

Where is Basilica Cistern located? Getting to Basilica Cistern on a map.

Recommended Further Reading:

Istanbul Basilica Cistern Blog Post By Serhat Engul

Basilica Cistern History, Architecture, Location Map 2019

  • Zana Alli


    Hi! Thank you for your awesome post and amazing pictures. Although I’m not a fan of dark, damp, underground places I’ll try to visit the underground Basilica Cistern when i visit Istanbul soon – for the first time ever!

    • Serhat Engül

      Hi Zana, thank you for the great review. Let me know if you need any help when you visit Istanbul. Have a good day!

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