Also known as the Underground Palace, the Basilica Cistern was built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the mid-500s. During the Byzantine era, the cistern was used as a water-storing tank for the Great Palace of Constantinople, and for watering the gardens of the Topkapı Palace during the Ottoman Empire. Being the largest surviving Cistern in Istanbul, the structure consists of 336 Corinthian-carved columns and two of its pillars have the face Medusa. This massive structure is the size of a cathedral — 143m long, 65m in diameter and can hold up to 17.5 million gallons of water. Today, the Basilica Cistern is being used as a Museum, and it has been visited by prominent people like the former US President, Bill Clinton.

Visiting Hours

Opened daily 09:00 am — 17:30 pm

Admission Fee 20 TL

Free entry for children under 8.


Contact Details

Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism

Tel: +90 (212) 512 15 70

Fax: 0 (212) 522 81 66


Istanbul By Drone: Galata Tower, At Sunset

Yerebatan Sarnıcı, Istanbul