News Discover the Wonders of the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul
Discover the Wonders of the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul
Welcome to Istanbul's stunning Basilica Cistern! This historical gem, which has recently undergone extensive restoration, is now open to visitors and has left everyone in awe of its restored beauty. Located on Soğukçeşme Street, just southwest of Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern is an important cultural asset with a fascinating history. Built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, it once provided a vital source of water for the city during his reign. Today, this unique heritage site serves as both a museum and event venue, and is a popular spot for wedding photoshoots. It's also a top destination for those seeking entertainment and activities in Istanbul. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the restoration of the Basilica Cistern and provide you with in-depth information about this remarkable site.
Information About the Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. in 526-527. This closed cistern, located in the southwest of Hagia Sophia, met the city's water needs for a period of time. It is also known as the Basilica Palace because of the many marble columns rising from the water.
There was a basilica on the Basilica Cistern before. It was connected to the Hadrian waterways, which met the water needs of the regions between the first and second hills of the city. After the Conquest of Istanbul, the cistern that distributed water around Sarayburnu and the Garden Gate began to be used when the Ottomans established their own water facilities in the city.
Even if it is no longer used, the Basilica Cistern, which has become a symbol of the neighborhood where it is located, is often used today as a museum and event venue. It is operated by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
The Story of the Basilica Cistern
The head of Medusa found in the cistern has been the subject of some rumors and stories. One of them is expressed on the official website of the cistern as follows:
According to a legend, Medusa is one of the three Gorgons, the female monster of the underworld in Greek mythology. Of these three sisters, the snake-headed Medusa has the power to turn those who look at her into stone. According to one opinion, Gorgon paintings and sculptures were used to protect large buildings and special places at that time, and that is why the Medusa head was placed in the cistern.'
Where is the Basilica Cistern?
The Basilica Cistern is located in Sultanahmet in the Fatih district of Istanbul. The exact address and location information of the Basilica Cistern, located on Soğukçeşme Street, southwest of Hagia Sophia, is as follows:
Address: Yerebatan Cad. Alemdar Mah. 1/3 34410 Sultanahmet-Fatih/ISTANBUL
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Yerebatan+Sarnıcıemail@example.com,28.9756893,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x14cab9bde0c66ac9:0x60c02fe1ee6d8471!8m2!3d41.008359!4d28.9778409 How to Get to the Basilica Cistern?
There are many alternatives to reach the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul. If you want, you can go here by your own private car or by using public transport. You can go to the Basilica Cistern located right next to Hagia Sophia by taking the tram from Eminönü. You need to get off the tram at Sultanahmet Stop and go towards Yerebatan Street.
You can also choose the ferry to come to the Basilica Cistern from the Anatolian Side. After getting off the ferry, you can use the public transportation to Sultanahmet.
Entrance Fees of the Basilica Cistern
After the Basilica Cistern was restored, the entrance fees were also updated. The current fees are as follows:
Local Visitor: 55 TL
Foreign Visitor: 330 TL
Students and Teachers: 22.5 TL
NOTE: They do not accept Museum Card because they are not affiliated to the Ministry of Culture. Credit card and cash are valid. Foreign currency is not accepted. It is stated that entrance tickets can be purchased online via Passo.
Since the entrance fees to the Basilica Cistern may vary, we strongly recommend that you get confirmation via the official website of the Basilica Cistern.
If you wish, you can also reach them by phone.
Basilica Cistern Phone Number: 0 (212) 512 15 70
Visiting Hours of the Basilica Cistern
It is recommended that you pay attention to the day and time you will go to visit the Basilica Cistern. The current visiting hours are as follows:
Every day of the week from 09.00 to 19.00.
If you don't want to visit on very crowded days, you may prefer to go on weekdays. You can also go to the cistern on the weekend for a tour intertwined with people.
Architecture of the Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern attracts attention especially with its architecture. This structure has a rectangular plan and is located on a rocky floor. The measurements of the cistern built of brick were taken for the first time by the German archaeologist Eckhard Unger during the First World War. The Basilica Cistern, which is stated to be 138 x 64.6 meters, is known for its water storage capacity of about 100 thousand tons.
The brick braided vault on it carries 336 columns. There are 28 rows of columns in the east-west direction and 12 rows of columns in the south-north direction, the 41 columns located on the northwestern side of the Basilica Cistern and remaining in the area closed during the reign of Abdulhamit II cannot be seen today.
There are decorated columns, Corinthian column capitals, inverted Medusa-like materials in the structure. 98 columns were specially made for the Basilica Cistern. The Basilica Cistern is reached by stone stairs on the southeast side.
Basilica Cistern in Popular Culture
The Basilica Cistern, with its architecture, has also been the subject of Dan Brown's thriller and mystery novel Inferno, published in 2013. The book was adapted into a movie in 2016. The film starring Tom Hanks was completed at the film plateau in Budapest. An exact copy of the cistern was made here; the Basilica Cistern was not preferred in the filmings to avoid damage.
Basilica Cistern Visitor Reviews
'I've never seen such a perfect place in my life! The restoration has been truly magnificent. History and art are intertwined. It is worth every second that you are waiting at the door. In the meantime, don't forget to make a wish and throw money at Medusa.'
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