The Basilica Cistern is one of Istanbul’s most famous sites, located in the city’s core, and is the largest cistern left of the Eastern Roman Empire. This ancient cellar with one-of-a-kind architecture, massive columns, and spectacular decorations is located near other attractions like Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, and it attracts at least three million domestic and foreign tourists each year.
The Basilica Cistern is one of Istanbul’s most unusual and unique historical attractions. a building dating back to the 6th century AD that depicts a blend of history and love legends. You might be surprised to learn that Istanbul has over 80 underground reservoirs, with the Basilica Cistern being the largest.
One of the most delightful activities at the Basilica Cistern is walking through the lit halls of the 1500-year-old historic crypt while listening to gentle music. Continue reading as we discuss the history, architecture, amenities, and circumstances of visiting this ancient reservoir.
Where is the Basilica Cistern located?
The historic Basilica Cistern reservoir is located in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet quarter, next to the world-famous Hagia Sophia museum and mosque.
The ancient Basilica Cistern reservoir is approximately 44.3 kilometers (one hour and 15 minutes) from the Bosphorus Strait and around 4.2 km from Taksim Square (half an hour). This reservoir is 20.3 kilometers (half an hour) from Istanbul Ataturk International Airport and 48.4 kilometers (one hour and ten minutes) from Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport. The ancient Basilica Cistern is located near Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, and the Archaeological Museum, among other notable Istanbul sights.
To go to this famous location, you may rent a car in Istanbul and save money in this beautiful and ancient city. Renting a car from Rentkonim will provide you and your loved ones with unforgettable moments.
The access path of the Basilica Cistern reservoir
The Basilica Cistern is a small, subway-accessible structure in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district, immediately across from the famed Hagia Sophia museum. So, if you’ve decided to visit Hagia Sophia first, simply stroll southwest of the museum for five minutes to reach this water reservoir. The Basilica Cistern is very accessible, and you may get there by bus, taxi, metro, or other methods of urban transit from any place in Istanbul.
Taksim Square is a popular tourist destination. The quickest method to get to the Basilica Cistern from Taksim Square is to take the Istanbul Tram; the nearest stop to Taksim is Kabataş Tramway. The Kabatash tram station is roughly a 12-minute walk from Taksim Square, and you may also use the cable car (about two to five minutes).
If you want to ride the cable car, head to the Taksim cable car station and take the F1 line. After a few minutes, exit at Kabatash station and walk for a minute to its tram stop. Then take the T1 line to the Sultan Ahmed station after traveling through seven stations. Continue walking for another two minutes to reach the Basilica Cistern.
Interesting facts about the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul
- One of the sequences in the films James Bond and Brotherhood of Tears (both 2003) was shot in Istanbul’s Basilica Cistern.
- You must descend 52 steps to see this reservoir.
- The basilica cistern is also known as “Yerbatan Sarai,” which translates as “sunken palace.”
- The water contained in the Basilica cistern supplied water to the Imperial Palace and the surrounding structures.
- The Basilica Crypt is Istanbul’s largest reservoir.
- The Basilica Reservoir is located 150 meters southwest of Istanbul’s most famous mosque, Hagia Sophia. It is reported that some of the materials used in the construction of this reservoir were leftovers from the Hagia Sophia Mosque, which were transferred to Constantinople (ancient Istanbul) from various locations.
Where was the water of the basilica's crypt supplied from?
The water kept in the crypt of the Istanbul Basilica was sourced from a big water distribution center and brought to the city through two aqueducts. Because water traveled such a great distance, attackers were more likely to taint it. As a result, the Romans made a wise decision. They put fish in the water that was about to be poured into the reservoir so that if the poison got into the water, they would detect the enemy’s deception and prevent the water from entering the royal palace and other residential areas.
We are not exaggerating when we claim that the Basilica Cistern is one of the most amazing historical sites in the world. If you read the preceding material attentively, you will have learned a lot about the old basilica water reservoir, and by traveling through this terrifying yet magnificent and breathtaking water reservoir, you will learn about its history and the function it previously had in giving water to the people.
By seeing the Basilica Cistern, you will most likely have a greater understanding of the significance of this ancient treasure. As a result, we recommend that you visit the Basilica Cistern during your visit to Istanbul, take a souvenir photo next to its integrated arches and columns, and look at Medusa’s eyes on the northwest columns’ support. You don’t have to be terrified of being stoned; it’s all fiction!