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  3. Basilica Cistern

Istanbul: Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Guided Tour

Product ID: 192903
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On this 30-minute tour, visit the 4th-century Basilica Cistern and discover the mystery of Medusa heads from Greek mythology.
About this activity
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Mobile ticketing
Duration 30 minutes
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Skip the ticket line
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Live tour guide

Select participants and date:



  • 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
What’s Not Included
  • Hotel pick-up

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

From US$ 12.08 per person

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Istanbul Tourist Pass

Product ID: 192903