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Basilica Cistern Istanbul: Tips & Tickets

Basilica Cistern, located in Istanbul, Turkey, is an underground water reservoir that dates back to the 6th century. Constructed during the reign of Emperor Justinian I, the cistern covers an area of approximately 9,800 square meters and can hold up to 80,000 cubic meters of water.

Featuring 336 columns that measure 9 meters in height and supported by vaulted brick ceilings, the Basilica Cistern is a remarkable architectural feat. What makes it even more unique is that its columns were sourced from various buildings and structures across the Roman Empire.

But what was the purpose behind constructing such a massive underground water reservoir? The answer lies in Istanbul's geography. The city was built on seven hills, with Basilica Cistern situated on the first hill. This location made it possible for water to be transported from nearby forests via aqueducts and stored in the cistern for use during times of drought or siege.

Visitors today can explore this ancient marvel and admire its unique architecture. One of its most famous features is two Medusa heads that serve as bases for two columns. It's believed that these heads were brought from another site and placed there as a symbol of power over pagan beliefs.

If you're planning a visit to Basilica Cistern, you'll be happy to know that admission prices are reasonable. However, keep in mind that lines can be long during peak tourist season.

Location and Architecture: Discovering the Unique Features of Basilica Cistern

The Medusa Heads: A Mysterious Addition to the Basilica Cistern

At the base of two columns in the Basilica Cistern, visitors can find two Medusa heads made of marble. These eerie and mysterious additions are believed to have been brought from a pagan temple and placed upside down as a way to ward off evil spirits. The Medusa heads add an element of intrigue to the already fascinating site.

The Column of Tears: A Symbol of Byzantine Architecture

Another attraction in the Basilica Cistern is the Column of Tears, named after the tear-like carvings on its surface. It is said to have been built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. This column is just one example of the exquisite Byzantine architecture found throughout the cistern.

A History Rich Site: From Constantine to Justinian

The Basilica Cistern itself was originally built during the reign of Emperor Constantine in the 4th century and was later enlarged by Emperor Justinian to provide water for his palace and nearby buildings. The water in the cistern was brought through an aqueduct built by Emperor Justinian, who also commissioned the construction of Hagia Sophia. This historical site offers visitors a glimpse into Istanbul's rich past.

A Must-See Attraction: Witnessing Light and Shadow Play

Travelers visiting Istanbul should make it a point to visit this unique site. The play of light and shadow created by the columns and Medusa heads is truly mesmerizing. Additionally, witnessing such an important piece of history firsthand is an unforgettable experience.

Location Matters: Finding Basilica Cistern

Located near Hagia Sophia, visitors can easily find this hidden gem within Istanbul's bustling city center. Its location offers travelers a chance to explore multiple historical sites all within walking distance.

Discovering Basilica Cistern: How Was It Discovered?

The Basilica Cistern was discovered by chance during the construction of a building in the 16th century. The sunken cistern was then restored and opened to the public. Today, it remains a popular tourist attraction and an important piece of Istanbul's history.

Medusa Heads and Column of Tears: Unveiling the Attractions of Basilica Cistern

An Audioguide: The Best Way to Explore the Mysteries of Basilica Cistern

To fully appreciate the beauty and significance of the Basilica Cistern, an audioguide is a must-have. This audio tour provides visitors with a detailed explanation of the history and importance of this ancient structure. It also highlights unique features such as the Medusa heads and upside-down columns.

The audioguide is available in multiple languages, making it accessible to travelers from all over the world. Using an audioguide allows visitors to explore at their own pace and gain a deeper understanding of this fascinating historical site.

Discovering Unique Features: Medusa Heads and Column of Tears

One of the most intriguing features of Basilica Cistern is its Medusa heads. These two marble heads are placed upside down, serving as bases for two columns in the northwest corner of the cistern. According to legend, they were brought here from a pagan temple during the Byzantine era.

Another unique feature that can be discovered through an audioguide is the "Column of Tears." This column has been named so because it appears to be weeping water droplets on its surface. The column was originally part of a temple dedicated to Emperor Constantine before being repurposed by Emperor Justinian for use in his grand cistern project.

Interesting Stories and Legends Associated With Basilica Cistern

In addition to providing information about unique features like Medusa heads and Column of Tears, an audioguide also includes interesting stories and legends associated with basilica cistern. For example, one story tells how two young fisherman accidentally discovered this underground structure while fishing in nearby waters.

Another legend suggests that there may be hidden treasure buried deep within Basilica Cistern's walls. Although no evidence has ever been found to support this claim, it continues to capture people's imaginations.

Visiting Basilica Cistern: Tips, Advice, and Ticket Purchasing Details

Where to Buy Basilica Cistern Tickets

Tickets for the Basilica Cistern can be purchased at the entrance of the cistern itself. Visitors are advised to arrive early, as lines can get quite long during peak hours. The cistern is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM.

Tips for Visiting Basilica Cistern

Before visiting the Basilica Cistern, it's important to keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, visitors should wear comfortable shoes, as there are many steps leading down into the cistern. Additionally, visitors should bring a camera, as there are many beautiful photo opportunities within the cistern.

Advice for Visitors

When visiting the Basilica Cistern, it's important to take your time and explore all that this ancient structure has to offer. From the towering columns and arches to the tranquil waters below, there is much to see and appreciate within this historic site.

Ticket Purchasing Details

Tickets for the Basilica Cistern cost 20 Turkish Lira (approximately $2.50 USD) per person. Children under 8 years old can enter free of charge. Visitors are advised to check TripAdvisor reviews before purchasing tickets or planning their visit.

History of Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern was built in the 6th century during the Byzantine period and is one of Istanbul's largest cisterns. It was constructed using columns and capitals from various ancient structures, including those from the Roman period.

Pop Culture References

The cistern has been featured in popular culture numerous times over the years, including James Bond's From Russia with Love and Dan Brown's Inferno. These references have helped increase its popularity as a tourist attraction.

Mythology Surrounding The Site

According to ancient mythology, the cistern was built by Medusa's tears and was believed to be a place where people could communicate with the gods. While this may just be a myth, there is no denying the beauty and majesty of this ancient structure.

Restoration History

The Basilica Cistern has undergone several restorations throughout history, with the most recent one taking place in 1985. Despite its age, however, it remains an impressive feat of engineering and architecture that continues to captivate visitors from around the world.

Exploring the Mysteries Beneath: Best Audioguide for a Tour of Basilica Cistern

336 Columns with Medusa Heads: A Marvelous Sight

The Basilica Cistern is a sight to behold, and perhaps one of the most impressive features are the 336 columns that stand tall within it. These columns are each 9 meters in height, and their bases have been recycled from earlier structures. What makes these bases particularly fascinating are the Medusa heads that can be found on some of them.

According to local legend, these heads were placed in the cistern as a way to ward off evil spirits. However, the truth behind their placement is much more practical. The Medusa heads were used as column bases because they were seen as strong and durable materials that could withstand heavy weights.

Despite their practical purpose, there's no denying that the Medusa heads add an element of mystery and intrigue to the cistern. Visitors often marvel at their intricate details and unique aesthetic appeal.

A Forgotten Wonder Rediscovered: The History of Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern may be a popular tourist attraction today, but it was forgotten for centuries after it was built during the Byzantine Empire. It wasn't until Pierre Gilles rediscovered it in the 16th century that people began to take notice of this incredible feat of engineering.

Gilles was a French scholar who had traveled to Istanbul on behalf of King Francis I. During his time in the city, he stumbled upon an entrance to what he believed was an underground palace. Upon further investigation, he discovered that it was actually a massive water reservoir - one that had been lost to history for centuries.

Today, visitors can explore this underground wonder thanks to Gilles' discovery. It serves as a reminder of Istanbul's rich history and how even its most impressive landmarks can be hidden from view for centuries at a time.

An Impressive Feat of Engineering: The Sunken Palace

The Basilica Cistern is often referred to as the Sunken Palace due to its impressive size and grandeur. It covers an area of 9,800 square meters and is capable of holding up to 80,000 cubic meters of water. This made it a vital source of water for the Great Palace during the Byzantine Empire.

What's particularly impressive about the cistern is how it was built. The columns that support the structure were brought in from all over the empire - some as far away as Egypt - and were carefully placed into position by skilled engineers. The result is a breathtaking underground space that has stood the test of time.

Visitors today can explore this incredible feat of engineering for themselves with an audioguide tour that provides insight into its history and significance. Whether you're a history buff or simply looking for a unique experience in Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern is not to be missed.

Guided Tours and More: How to Experience Basilica Cistern with Tickets and Tours

Entrance Tickets to Basilica Cistern

Visiting the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul is a must-have experience for travelers. Entrance tickets to the cistern can be purchased on-site or online through various tour providers such as TripAdvisor . However, visitors who want to avoid long lines and wait times should opt for skip-the-line tickets from reputable tour providers.

Day Tours from Topkapi Palace

For visitors who want to explore more of Istanbul's historical landmarks, day tours from Topkapi Palace are available. These tours include a visit to the Basilica Cistern as part of the itinerary. The period between April to October is the peak tourist season, so it is advisable to book tours and tickets in advance.

Guided Tours at Basilica Cistern

Tour guides are available at the entrance of Basilica Cistern for visitors who want a more informative and immersive experience. These guides provide insights into the history and significance of this ancient water reservoir. Visitors will learn about its construction during the Byzantine era and how it played a vital role in Istanbul's survival during wars.

What Not To Miss at Basilica Cistern

The most iconic feature of the cistern is its Medusa heads that support two columns in one corner of the underground chamber. According to legend, these heads were placed upside down by early Christians since they believed that Medusa's gaze turned people into stone. Another notable feature is the Hen's Eye column that has an irregular shape due to centuries-old water erosion.

Reopening and New Exhibition: Current Basilica Cistern Opening Hours and Details

Basilica Cistern Opening Hours and Details Today

Opening Hours

The Basilica Cistern is open every day of the week, from 9:00 AM to 6:30 PM. It is important to note that last admission is at 5:30 PM, so visitors should plan accordingly.

Reopening Date

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Basilica Cistern was temporarily closed. However, it has reopened and is now welcoming visitors once again. As always, safety measures are in place to ensure the health and well-being of all visitors.

Stunning Architecture

One of the main reasons why people visit Basilica Cistern is because of its stunning architecture. The cistern was built in the 6th century and showcases impressive engineering skills of ancient Constantinople. Visitors can marvel at the intricate details of this historical site while learning about its past uses as a water filtration system and even a filming location for popular movies.

Mystery and Intrigue