Istanbul The Basilica Cistern (Guided Tour)

(3 Reviews)
The House Of Medusa
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The House Of Medusa
From10 €
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  • Adult10€
  • Tour Duration30-40 Minutes
  • Available DaysEveryday
  • Witness the HistoryOldest Cistern in Istanbul
  • GuidanceEnglish
  • Over Then 300 ColumnsAdmire the Reliefs

Istanbul The Basilica Cistern (Guided Tour)

In case you might be thinking that Istanbul is just what you see, the Basilica Cistern Guided Tour is here to prove you wrong. Accept the challenge, and tour one of the city’s most interesting places, characterized as an architectural and engineering wonder

Beneath the bustling atmosphere of the city, there is a complex of ancient cisterns, the Underground Palace as the Ottomans used to call it. Explore one of the locations where the film “Inferno” was filmed, observe the ancient structure and feel the imposing atmosphere of this place. The real adventure takes place underground!

The Basilica Cistern Guided Tour offers what you need to explore this imposing underground structure and travel back in time. Join us for an incredible experience and learn the history, admire the ancient architecture, understand the engineering concept, and get to feel the mysticism that this sight has.

The tour is available on a daily basis and lasts for approximately 30 minutes. Please refer to the timetables as the tour is conducted on different times each day. The tour is guided, meaning that a local tour guide will help you explore Basilica Cistern by explaining important features and insights. Please note that, transfers are not included in the price. If you wish to be part of this underground exploration, please be at the meeting point, at least 10 minutes before the scheduled time and without prior booking. The meeting point is at Sultanahmet Square, a central location which allows easy access.


  • The Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul
  • Explore the huge cistern was built in the mid-500s on the former site of a basilica dating back to the Byzantine era
  • Listen from your expert guide commentary about the cistern, which is the largest water cistern built in ancient times
  • Admire more than 300 marble columns which is provide a grand, serene atmosphere to what was essentially subterranean water storage
istanbul tourist pass



From 1st August Until December 31

MONDAYS 16:00 / TUESDAYS 09:00 - 12:00 - 16:00 / WEDNESDAY TO SATURDAYS 09:00 - 12:00 - 14:30 - 16:45

Meeting Point

Sultanahmet Square

This tour has no hotel transfer, our guests must make their way to the meeting location on their own. Please meet your guide at the meeting point 10 minutes before the tour start time.

The Basilica Cistern Tour starts at the main bus stop for the Big Bus Tour Company at Sultanahmet Square. Look out for the dark red double-decker buses. It’s about 20 metres (65 ft) in front of the Hagia Sophia Museum.

Get Directions For Meeting Point


What's Included

  • Guiding Service
  • Full Insurance

What's Excluded

  • Personal Spendings
  • Foods & Drinks
  • Hotel Transfer

Important Notes

  • Istanbul Tourist Pass holders do not pay admission at the Basilica Cistern.
  • Wear comfortable, nonslip shoes to traverse the steps and the often-wet ground.
  • Please meet your guide at the meeting point 10 minutes before the tour start time.
  • The museum is closed for visits for half-day on the first day of Ramadan and Sacrifice Festivals.
  • The entrance for wheelchair users and other visitors with mobility challenges is at the cistern’s exit.
  • As the cistern is underground, the setting is damp and cool. Take a layer if you don’t want to feel the chill.
  • Children will be asked to present their valid passport at the entrance of the museums in order to validate their age.
  • Please note that this attraction cannot be accessed directly by presenting the digital Pass at the museum. You need to enter with the tour guide.

You may like to take a look at our all  Istanbul Excursions 

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Learn More

About Basilica Cistern

Constructed between 527 and 565 by the Byzantine Emperor I. Justinian, the Basilica Cistern is one of the most imposing and well-preserved sights in Istanbul. An interesting fact about it is that, it has the capacity to store 100000 tons of water. The whole structure is supported by 336 marble columns, each of them being 9 meters tall. One of them most notable features found in the Basilica Cistern, is a roman sculpture known as the Medusa Head. The beauty of this incredible marble head is unique and interesting, just as the interpretations about its meaning. According to ancient mythology, Medusa was in love with Zeus and Athena cursed her. Her hair turned into snakes and any man who looked at her was turning into a stone. It is believed that the head of Medusa was placed there in order to protect the structure.

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Basilica Cistern Guided Tour

With the Basilica Cistern Guided Tour you have the opportunity to visit this iconic location, which except from its historical importance it is also famous in the pop culture for hosting scenes of the infamous Hollywood movie “Inferno”. No prior booking is required. In fact, all you have to do is to be at the meeting point 10 minutes prior the scheduled time. There, you will meet our assigned tour guide, who will be in charge to explain all the great details about this sight. The tour is conducted in English so feel free to ask anything you want. Get ready for an incredible journey back in time and to get impressed by the astonishing underground structure.

Meeting point

For the purposes of the Basilica Cistern Guided Tour, the meeting point is at Sultanahmet Square, just in front of Hagia Sophia Museum. Therefore, if you are reaching the meeting point via public transportation, use the T1 tram line, direction Bağılar – Kabataş, which takes you directly to Sultanahmet station. Once there, walk towards Hagia Sophia and check for the meeting point. Sultanahmet Square is at the city centre, which means that, you can always walk there or use a taxi service. You are instructed to be at the meeting point at least 10 minutes before the scheduled time of the tour.

Basilica Cistern Guided Tour: Locals’ tips

Basilica Cistern Guided Tour is just the right option if you are actually looking for a way to get the most interesting facts and tips about this place. Well, the sight was used multiple times in the pop culture as it appeared in famous movies, such as James Bond and Inferno. In addition, it is featured in the popular video game Assassin’s Creed. What to know more? Join the Basilica Cistern Guided Tour and let the history unfold in front of your eyes.


3 Reviews
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Syed Sukrat

Family Traveller

Booked several guided tours with them and I’m really satisfied with their services. It was kind of last-minute booking, and they were happy to accept it. I had all details in advance and went to the meeting point. Best thing about it is that you just skip the line and enter the place with a guide, I felt lucky!! My parents also liked the whole guided experience. They were kept on asking things coz this place is like an amazing engineering wonder. It also appears that it’s one of the popular sites in Istanbul, so it was good that we booked to go there with a guide. Value for money, great experience.

Abdul Radef

Solo Traveller

Very interesting, never saw something like this before. I wanted to visit this place and having a guide was absolutely necessary. I mean, there are so much information about this site that going there alone is not very smart. Booking was easy and simple, no problems at all with the company. The cistern is a true miracle, still wondering how they manage to do all this underground. The guide was fluent in English and gave us some nice details. Overall, one of the most interesting things to do, and if you are panning to go do it with a guide.

Fasily Karen

Solo Traveller

Watch it in a movie and had it in my holiday bucket list. I must say that, in reality it looks better and bigger. We met the guide right on time and enter the place. What an impressive structure that was!! As we were inside the guide, a lovely lady, explained everything to us. It didn’t take long to finish the tour, but we managed to learn everything about it and take some photos. If you are in Istanbul this site won’t disappoint you. I have great memories from our tour. 100% trustworthy company and 100% awesome tour.