Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern in Istanbul

The Basilica Cistern is a huge underground cistern located in the heart of Istanbul’s historic peninsula. It was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD and is the largest of the city’s many cisterns. The cistern is supported by 336 marble columns and has a capacity of around 80,000 cubic meters. It is famous for its eerie atmosphere and for the two Medusa heads that decorate its entrance.

The Basilica Cistern was used to store freshwater for the city’s inhabitants and the many churches and palaces in the area. It fell into disuse after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453 but was later restored by the Turkish government. It is now open to the public as a tourist attraction.

The Basilica Cistern is open from 9 am to 7 pm daily. Admission is 10.00 US dollars.

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