Basilica Cistern Istanbul: A Must-See Attraction in Turkey

Basilica Cistern

  • Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey

The Basilica Cistern in Istanbul, Turkey, is a remarkable historical site that dates back to the 6th century. Built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, it’s the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns lying beneath the city. Known locally as Yerebatan Sarnıcı, meaning “Sunken Cistern,” this underground water reservoir is famed for its atmospheric interior, illuminated by dim lights and filled with the soft sound of dripping water. Its forest of 336 marble columns, each 9 meters high, is arranged in 12 rows, creating a mesmerizing symmetry. Among its most famous features are the two Medusa head pillars, with their origins shrouded in mystery. The Basilica Cistern’s blend of history, architecture, and myth makes it a must-visit for those exploring Istanbul’s rich cultural heritage.