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Basilica Cistern

Discover Istanbul, home of Basilica Cistern


Yerebatan Cistern

Used to hold 80 thousand cubic meters of water, Basilica Cistern has been the source of water for the palaces of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. It is also known as the Yerebatan Cistern or Sunken Palace.

Basilica Cistern

One of the coolest spots and most unusual tourist attractions in Istanbul, Basilica Cistern is an underground water reservoir.

This subterranean cistern was commissioned by Emperor Justinian in 532. It is the largest surviving Byzantine cistern in Istanbul and includes 336 columns. Taken from ruined temples for the construction of the cistern, each column here has a different design and decoration. Their reflection falling on the still water on the ground add to the enchanting beauty of the interior.

Walking along the wooden platforms, you will come across various beautiful columns, column heads, and even statues, such as the famous Medusa.

Medusa Sculptures

Yerebatan Cistern is famous for its upside down Medusa heads. These two giant Medusa heads used as plinths in the far corner of the cistern, are the most attractive features of the cistern.

One Hundred Years of Secrecy

With its 336 columns, the Basilica Cistern resembles a palace buried under the soil. The Ottomans heard about it approximately one hundred years after the fall of Constantinople and they named it Yerebatan meaning sunken.

Pierre Gilles is the intellectual philologist who found the histroical place, with the help of very old manuscripts.

Visiting the Yerebatan Cistern

This place is full of surprises. Do not forget to take a picture of the Medusa sculptures. Throw a coin into the pool and make a wish during your Basilica Cistern experience.

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

Sunken Palace, Istanbul