Tickets for Basilica Cistern: Guided Tour

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What's included

30-minute English guided tour of the Basilica Cistern
  • Explore the ancient Basilica Cistern, first designed to service the Great Palace in the 4th century
  • See amazing Byzantine artworks, including hundreds of illuminated columns and Medusa heads
  • Get the facts about the cistern from your guide - and don't forget to look out for the fish!

From ancient wonders to Hollywood movie stars, the Basilica Cistern has seen it all. Come explore the sunken movie location and the largest (and most atmospheric) of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie hidden beneath the city of Istanbul.

Built in 532, this underground cistern is one that Tom Hanks knows well. He was down here filming the adaptation of Dan Brown's thriller Inferno in 2016. It was also featured in the James Bond movie From Russia with Love. Hollywood producers were clearly captivated by the atmosphere of this ancient place, and now you can experience it yourself.

Walk along the raised platforms and soak up the sights - without soaking up any of the water! You'll be standing safe and dry among 336 illuminated marble and granite columns. The Byzantine architecture down here has stood the test of time (and a lot of tourists).

See the different building materials used across different eras, and don't miss the two creepy Medusa heads at the base of the columns. Less creepy are the carp! The shallow waters make a perfect home for these fish to thrive.

Insider tip

Some believe that the resident carp were actually introduced for a practical reason: to test whether or not the cistern was poisoned! If someone poisoned the water, the fish would float to the top, alerting the population and foiling any would-be assassins.

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Big Bus Stop Sultanahmet Park
Cankurtaran Mh., No:, Atmeydanı Cd. No:1, 34122 Fatih, Istanbul
Basilica Cistern
Alemdar Mh., Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34410, Istanbul
  • Meet your guide at the Big Bus stop next to Sultanahmet park and show them your smartphone ticket
  • Make sure to be on time!
  • For under-12s, don't forget to bring a valid ID or passport to prove their age
  • Changes may be possible for this ticket

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This ticket includes a single entrance to the venue, in combination with other services. You can find this information under the section 'What's included' on this page.
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