This cistern was built in AD 532 and stored 17,596,800 gallons of drinking water for the city. It's a very cool place to visit (literally as well as figuratively) and doesn't take too much time to see. There are 336 columns which make it an interesting sight, as they all come out of the water to hold up the very high ceiling. Spotlights along some columns provide an erie atmosphere as you walk along the stone pathways down the middle.
Located in the northwest corner of the cistern, the bases of two columns reuse blocks carved with the visage of Medusa. The origin of the two heads is unknown, though it is thought that the heads were brought to the cistern after being removed from a building of the late Roman period. Tradition has it that the blocks are oriented sideways and inverted in order to negate the power of the Gorgons' gaze.
Open: 9am-5.30pm. Admission: TL10.
Very interesting underground cistern with beautiful lighting, and water with fish swimming there. Kids will love finding the fish. At the end, you will see two inverted medusa heads. It is very damp and dark, so once you finish , it is better to leave.
I have to say that i'm as impressed as every other visitor to this 1,500 year old cistern.
It was built to provide water to the world's largest city while it was under siege from the Greeks and several other invading armies. It served its purpose and saved the city residents on several occasions.
There is still amazingly clear and fresh water in it, albeit only a few inches deep, with large and lazy fish.
The amazing thing about this is that when it was full (I've forgotten how many zillion cubic metres of fresh water), the water never seeped out. Even now, 1.500 years later, it's still water tight (to a few feet anyway).
This is well worth a visit.
Built by the Romans, i tried and failed at comparing it with the Roman baths in Bath, England.
If you take a half day City Sights Tour which will cost you EU30 per head, this, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar and several other more important historical sights are included.
The cistern is a few minutes walk from the Blue Mosque.
It isn't every municipal water-works that becomes a tourist attraction. But this 6th-century Byzantine underground water cistern is rather special, having been constructed using hundreds of Greek and Roman columns to support the 20m high brick vaulted ceiling.
Measuring 140m by 70m, there's no hint in the busy road junction above that it even exists. Once inside you're free to wander the raised walkways through the forest of columns. Subtle lighting and piped classical music complete the atmospherics and give the ancient feat of engineering a suitably mystical ambience.
This is a special monument, you should not miss. At first this was built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian, and is the largest cistern left in Istanbul.
The total number of columns is 336, and the roof is 65 meter wide and 143 long. As you see, the forms of capitals differs from each others. So, these columns had to be taken from other buildings.
After the collpse of Byzantine Empire, the existence of this cistern have been forgotten. Of course, people knew that there was a big water pool below there house, but they used this space as a huge "trash box", or enjoyed fishing.
Inside, it is very cool, sometimes water drops fall down. So, please take care of them!
When you enter the Basilica Cistern, you should not miss two famous heads of Medusa at the northwest corner! One is totally upside down, and the other lies. There is an explanation board of these Medusas, so you can know more about them.
These medusas are in a very good condition, so it is one of masterpieces of Roman Art.
Without a doubt, this is one of the best surprises that you will find in Istanbul. The little building above ground at the entrance gives no clue about what lies beneath. This is a vast chamber with columns that makes you feel like you are in a fantasy movie. Music sets the mood and you can also hear the water dripping. Dont miss the medusa stone works at the back. This ancient cistern was a water source for Constantinople for hundreds of years. I do not know where else you can find something similar to this.
A very strange tourist attraction, otherwise known as the 'sunken palace'. It is a vast, columned chamber in which classical music is played and art is exhibited. This was one of the water cisterns used to supply Byzantine Constantinople. Along with the remains of the Aqueduct of Valens it is a reminder that Constantinople was born a Roman city. The supply of water was probably the greatest triumph of Roman engineering - it's been said that the city of Rome in the first century AD was supplied with more water than New York City in 1985.
Ancient Roman Cistern underneath the Hippodrome. Built in the 6th century, this cistern still holds water today. Keep an eye out for the Medussa head carvings.
Built as a reservoir for the city,one of a few.
As it says on the door,built around 532A.D. and a cooling respite from the heat above.Currently $7 to get in.
Go and see absolutely this wonderful place : Yerebatan Sarayi in turkish , means sunken palace . In the guides , Cistern Basilica . Don't ask anymore go there only .
open between 9:30 am - 7:30 pm
it's cool inside ... perfect for a hot afternoon...
Don't forget Medusa on the far end.
For information about these atmospheric underground cisterns, click here.
Hagia Sophia has a water reserve under the ground... you will find there a very special atmosphere...and an old sculture representing Medusa...