Basilica Cisterns of Istanbul

Basilica Cisterns Of Istanbul

Basilica Cisterns: A Must-Visit Tourist Attraction in Istanbul

Exploring Istanbul is a unique experience that many travelers dream of having. One of the must-see tourist attractions in Istanbul is the Basilica Cisterns. Located in the historical peninsula of Istanbul, the Basilica Cisterns are a unique yet captivating underground water reservoir that dates back to the 6th century. This ancient structure is a popular destination for tourists looking to explore the city and admire its history.


What Is the Basilica Cisterns of Istanbul?

The Basilica Cisterns of Istanbul are an ancient underground water reservoir built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in 532 AD. This massive structure was built to store water for the city of Constantinople and is the largest of its kind in the city. The cisterns are made up of 336 columns and measure 140m by 70m. The water in the cisterns comes from the Belgrade Forest and is stored in the two large cisterns. The cisterns are connected to the aqueducts that carry the water from the Belgrade Forest to the city.


The History of the Basilica Cisterns

The Basilica Cisterns have a long and interesting history. The cisterns were originally part of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I’s Palace and were used to store water for the city of Constantinople. The cisterns were built with a sophisticated system of channels and sluices that allowed them to be filled and emptied easily. During the Ottoman period, the cisterns were used to store food and water for the city, as well as to provide a place for the people to gather during religious ceremonies.

The cisterns were rediscovered in 1545 by the French scientist Petrus Gyllius. Gyllius explored the cisterns and wrote a book about his findings. This book helped to make the Basilica Cisterns a popular tourist attraction.


Exploring the Basilica Cisterns

Visiting the Basilica Cisterns is a unique and exciting experience. The cisterns are open to visitors who want to explore the underground water reservoir and admire its history. The cisterns are lit by a series of lights that give the cisterns an eerie yet captivating atmosphere. Visitors can also admire the 336 columns that support the structure as well as two Medusa head statues at the end of the cisterns.

The Basilica Cisterns also offer a variety of tours and events throughout the year. Visitors can join a guided tour to learn more about the history and architecture of the cisterns. There are also special events such as concerts and art exhibitions that take place in the cisterns.



The Basilica Cisterns of Istanbul are a must-visit tourist attraction for anyone exploring the city. This ancient structure is full of history and offers visitors a unique and captivating atmosphere. The cisterns are open to visitors who want to explore the underground water reservoir and admire its history. Visitors can also join a guided tour or attend one of the special events that take place in the cisterns throughout the year. Whether you’re looking for an educational experience or simply want to explore the history of Istanbul, the Basilica Cisterns are a must-visit.

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