Istanbul: Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Guided Tour

4.3 / 5

487 Reviews

Istanbul: Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Guided Tour

From US$ 11.63 per person

On this 30-minute tour, visit the 4th-century Basilica Cistern and discover the mystery of Medusa heads from Greek mythology.

About this activity

Free cancellation
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Duration: 30 minutes
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Live tour guide


  • Visit the Basilica Cistern with your experienced guide
  • Listen to the story of Medusa Heads
  • Recognize a scene in the James Bond movie From Russia with Love
Full description
Visit the Basilica Cistern, built in the 4th century and enlarged in 532 AD, used as water storage during Byzantine times. Listen to your guide as they explain the mystery of Medusa heads from Greek mythology. Explore this cathedral-size cistern, built during the reign of Emperor Justinian I in 532 A.D. to supply water to the Great Palace. It stores up to 80,000 cubic meters of water, delivered via 20 kilometers of aqueducts from a reservoir near the Black Sea. Descend the fifty-two stone steps into the entrance of the cistern. The cistern is surrounded by a firebrick wall with a thickness of 4 meters, coated with a waterproofing mortar. Hear how the Basilica Cistern's water comes from the Eğrikapı Water Distribution Center in the Belgrade Forest and travels through the 971-meter-long Valens Aqueduct and the 115-meter-long Mağlova Aqueduct, built by the Emperor Justinian.
  • Entry ticket to Basilica Cistern
  • Professional English-speaking guide
  • Hotel pick-up

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Prepare for the activity

Meeting point

BigBus Sultanahmet stop in front of Hagia Sophia

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Important information

Know before you go

  • Please note: this attraction cannot be visited without the guide
  • All children will be asked to present their valid passport at the entrance of the museums in order to validate their age
Customer reviews

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 487 reviews

Review summary

  • Service
    4.5 / 5
  • Organization
    4.4 / 5
  • Value for money
    4.2 / 5
  • Safety
    4.6 / 5
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The tour guide was very friendly and had a good understanding of the history of the Basilica Cistern and engaged with everyone on the tour. Withe some tours, the tour guide can often just focus on the person/people nearest to them, however, with our guide zi think everyone felt included. Loved the history of the site and one reason I wanted to see it is that it has featured in a number of movies and I am a bit of a buff regarding movie locations.

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March 10, 2020

Tour guide was really good and knowledgable. Tour only lasted 20 minutes and I don’t believe This tour actually needs a tour guide. The cistern is an in and out visit and, whilst great to experience, you’d be better off paying the entrance fee and doing this on your own.

February 2, 2020

Although this place has a small part in restauration process, it is a must see and cannot be missed. Basilica Cistern has many amazing things to teach you about Istanbul history and about its built. Our favorite thing, apart the place itself, was our guide Ozzy, that was very through in all the given information and delivered it in an interactive way. Thank you very much Ozzy you did an amazing job!

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August 19, 2019

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Product ID: 192903