Built by Constantine and enlarged to its present form by Justinian, Yerebatan Sarnici is the largest of several hundred ancient underground cisterns.   Created to irrigate the gardens of Constantinople and the Byzantine Palaces, it has the capacity to store 100,000 tons (23,965,000) gallons of water

The different styles of the columns suggest they have been recycled from the ruins of older buildings brought to Constantinople from various parts of the empire.

Yerebatan Sarnici was forgotten for centuries.  It was re-discovered in 1545 by Petrus Gyllius, a french topographer, sent to Constantinople by King Francis I with a mission to find ancient manuscripts.

Yerebatan Sarnici or underground Basilica Cistern in Istanbul

It is fun to note that this forest of columns and brick vaults was featured in the Bond film From Russia With Love.

The entrance is next to the Tourism Police station and is fairly nondescript.  We recommend you bring your own music and headphones.  The site is fantastic, but the tourist chatter that reverberates down the halls can take away the magic.

Column resembling the columns of the Triumphal Arch of Theodosius I from the 4th century (AD 379-395). Ancient texts suggest that the tears on the column pay tribute to the hundreds of slaves who died during the construction of the Basilica Cistern.

Yerebatan Sarnici or underground Basilica Cistern in Istanbul
Yerebatan Sarnici or underground Basilica Cistern in Istanbul

Yerebatan Sarnici
Basilica Cistern

90 212 522 1259Alemdar Mh.,
Şeftali Sk No:6,
Fatih, Istanbul, Turkey

www.yerebatan.com

OPEN HOURS:
9:00 – 17:30 Daily

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