Places to Visit

Discovering the Marvelous Yerebatan Sarnıcı (Basilica Cistern)

Yerebatan Sarnıcı (Basilica Cistern)

Yerebatan Sarnıcı, also known as Basilica Cistern in English, is an underground water reservoir located in the heart of Istanbul. It is a must-visit historical landmark for anyone visiting the city. The cistern was built in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian I to supply water to the Great Palace of Constantinople and other buildings in the city. Here is a comprehensive guide to Yerebatan Sarnıcı, with all the essential information you need to know before visiting this awe-inspiring site.

Getting to Yerebatan Sarnıcı: A Guide for Travelers

If you are visiting Istanbul and want to explore the fascinating Yerebatan Sarnıcı, you will need to know how to get there. The cistern is located in the historic district of Sultanahmet, which is easily accessible by public transportation, taxi, or walking.

One of the easiest and most affordable ways to get to Yerebatan Sarnıcı is by taking the tram. The T1 tram line runs from Kabataş to Bağcılar and passes through the Sultanahmet station. Once you get off at Sultanahmet, it’s a short walk to the cistern.

If you prefer to take a taxi, it’s essential to negotiate the fare with the driver before starting your journey. It’s also important to note that traffic in Istanbul can be quite heavy, so it’s best to avoid rush hours if possible.

If you are staying in the Sultanahmet area, you can walk to Basilica Cistern. The cistern is located near other major tourist attractions such as the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, making it a convenient stop on your itinerary.

In summary, there are several ways to get to Yerebatan Sarnıcı, including public transportation, taxi, or walking. Regardless of your choice, visiting this impressive underground water reservoir is an experience you won’t want to miss.

Yerebatan Sarnıcı (Basilica Cistern)

The Brief History of Yerebatan Sarnıcı

Emperor Justinian I commissioned the construction of Yerebatan Sarnıcı in the 6th century. The cistern was created to supply water to the Great Palace of Constantinople and other buildings in the city. The cistern’s name comes from the fact that it was built on the site of a basilica. For centuries, the cistern was forgotten and buried until a Frenchman named Petrus Gyllius rediscovered it in the 16th century.

Yerebatan Sarnıcı (Basilica Cistern)

The Architecture of Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern is a stunning example of Byzantine engineering and architecture. The cistern measures approximately 140 meters in length and 70 meters in width, with a capacity of 80,000 cubic meters of water. It is supported by 336 marble columns, each standing 9 meters high and arranged in 12 rows of 28 columns. The columns were sourced from various ancient structures, including ruined temples and other Byzantine buildings. The cistern’s vaulted ceiling is made of brick and supported by these columns.

Yerebatan Sarnıcı (Basilica Cistern)

The Medusa Heads at Yerebatan Sarnıcı

The two Medusa heads located at the base of two columns are among the most intriguing features of Yerebatan Sarnıcı. The origin of the heads is unknown, and they are believed to have been brought from a ruined temple or a public square. One of the heads is positioned upside down, while the other is placed sideways. The heads are thought to represent Medusa, a monster from Greek mythology, and were placed there as a protective charm.

Yerebatan Sarnıcı (Basilica Cistern)

The Illumination and Reflections of Basilica Cistern

The lighting in Basilica Cistern adds to the mystical atmosphere, with the dim lighting of the cistern creating fascinating reflections from the columns and water. Visitors can see schools of fish swimming in the clear water below, making the experience even more enchanting.

Yerebatan Sarnıcı (Basilica Cistern)

Visiting Yerebatan Sarnıcı

Yerebatan Sarnıcı is open to visitors every day of the week, and admission is reasonably priced. Visitors can expect to spend around 30 minutes exploring the cistern. Yerebatan Sarnıcı has an excellent audio guide that visitors can rent to learn more about the cistern’s history and features.

Tips for Visiting Yerebatan Sarnıcı

To make the most out of your visit to Yerebatan Sarnıcı, it is recommended that you:

  • Arrive early in the day to avoid long lines.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, as the cistern floor can be slippery.
  • Bring a camera to capture the stunning reflections and unique features of the cistern.
  • Rent an audio guide to learn more about the history and architecture of Basilica Cistern.
  • Respect the cistern’s rules and regulations, which include no smoking

Contact Info

  • Yerebatan Cad. Alemdar Mah. 1/3 34410 Sultanahmet-Fatih/İSTANBUL
  • 0 (212) 512 15 70