Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern was first built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, in order to fulfill the water needs of the big palace.

Cistern has a water capacity of 100.000 tons and includes an area of 9800 square meters with 336 columns. 98 columns are of Corinthian style while one section is made in Dor style. The medusa heads used at the lower sections of two columns as groundwork constitute sculptural masterpieces of the Roman era. Researches believe that the Medusa heads were brought during the construction of the cistern only to be used as groundwork. According to a legend, Medusa is one of the 3 Gorgons, which are the female underground monsters in Greek mythology. Among the three sisters, Medusa, which has snakes in place of her hair, has the power to turn anyone who stares at her into stone. According to one school of thought, Gorgon pictures and sculptures were used during that era in order to protect the large structures, and it might be the reason why a Medusa sculpture was placed inside the cistern. The cistern, which is located inside the historical peninsula, can be visited every day between 9.00 – 17.30.

Adress: Yerebatan Cad. Alemdar Mah. 1/3 34410

Visiting Hours

The museum is open to visits seven days a week. Exceptionally, it opens at 13:00 on first days of religious holidays and on January 1.

• The museum is open to visits between 09:00 and 17:30(winter) every day.

• The museum is open to visits between 09:00 and 18:30(summer) every day.


• Foreign Visitors: 20.00 TL

Museums Cards are not valid as the institution is not affiliated with the Ministry of Culture.

Writer: Celalettin Deniztoker