How to Plan Your Istanbul Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Guided Tour

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How to Plan Your Istanbul Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Guided Tour

Istanbul is a city of immense historical and cultural significance. One of its most popular landmarks is the Basilica Cistern, an underground water storage tank located in Sultanahmet Square. The cistern was built during the Byzantine era and holds great historical importance. A visit to Istanbul is not complete without exploring this mysterious and awe-inspiring place. In this blog post, we will guide you on how to plan your Istanbul Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Guided Tour.


The Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Guided Tour is an incredible opportunity to experience one of Istanbul’s most unique landmarks. The tour is led by experienced and knowledgeable guides who will take you on a journey through history. The tour is approximately 45 minutes long, during which you will explore the magnificent Basilica Cistern and hear fascinating stories about its history and importance.


The highlights of the tour include:

Visit the Basilica Cistern with your experienced guide

Your guide will take you on a journey through the Basilica Cistern and explain its rich history and significance.

Listen to the story of Medusa Heads

The Basilica Cistern is home to two Medusa heads, which have been placed upside down and sideways. According to legend, the Medusa heads were placed here to protect the cistern from evil spirits.

Recognize a scene in the James Bond movie From Russia with Love

The Basilica Cistern was used as a filming location for the James Bond movie From Russia with Love. You will recognize the scene where James Bond meets Darko Kerim, the head of the Istanbul station.

Full description

The tour starts at the entrance of the Basilica Cistern in Sultanahmet Square. Your guide will take you through the stone arches into the cistern. You will descend the fifty-two stone steps into the entrance of the cistern. The cistern is surrounded by a firebrick wall with a thickness of 4 meters coated with waterproofing mortar.

Explore this cathedral-size cistern built during the reign of Emperor Justinian I in 532 A.D. to supply water to the Great Palace. It stores up to 80000 cubic meters of water delivered via 20 kilometers of aqueducts from a reservoir near the Black Sea. Your guide will explain the significance of the cistern and its place in the history of Istanbul.

The most popular feature of the Basilica Cistern is the two Medusa heads located at the bottom of two columns. These heads are impressive, and according to legend, they were brought here from the Temple of Apollo in Didyma. Your guide will recount the fascinating history of the Medusa heads and their role in protecting the cistern.

As you explore the cistern, you will notice the eerie ambiance in the atmosphere. The sound of water dripping from the ceiling adds to the mysterious feel of the place.

You will also recognize the scene from the James Bond movie From Russia with Love. The Basilica Cistern is the place where James Bond meets Kerim Bey, the head of Istanbul Station. The scene will take you back in time, reminding you of the iconic movie scene.

How to book the tour

The best way to book your Istanbul Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Guided Tour is through GetYourGuide. GetYourGuide has a wide selection of tours and activities, and you can book your tickets on their user-friendly website. You can book the Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Guided Tour here: book the tour here.

In conclusion

Exploring Istanbul is an adventure, and visiting the Basilica Cistern is a must. We hope this guide has helped you plan your Istanbul Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Guided Tour. Remember to book your tickets in advance to skip the long lines and enjoy a hassle-free tour.

An Insider’s Guide to Istanbul: Beyond the Tourist Attractions

Istanbul, the city where East meets West, is a jewel on the Bosporus Strait. With its fascinating blend of ancient history, stunning architecture, vibrant markets, and delicious food, Istanbul is a must-visit destination for any traveler. As a local, here are some hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path suggestions that will add a unique flavor to your Istanbul visit.

Local Attractions: Discovering Istanbul’s Hidden Gems

While the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace are impressive, Istanbul has many lesser-known yet equally captivating landmarks. Venture out to the Balat and Fener neighborhoods to see artful street murals, historic synagogues, and cobblestone streets lined with colorful houses. Marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of Ottoman woodwork and stained-glass windows in Kariye Museum, or wander around the city’s oldest stone-built open-air mall, the Grand Bazaar.

For a unique view of Istanbul, take a ferry to the Princess Islands to witness the majestic façade of Istanbul from a distance, explore the islands by bike or horse carriage, and swim in the clear blue sea.

Dining Spots: Savoring Istanbul’s Culinary Culture

Kebabs and baklavas might come to mind when you think of Turkish food, but Istanbul’s culinary scene is far more varied than that. Visit the historic district of Yesilkoy, and try balik ekmek, which is a Turkish fish sandwich with a twist of lemon and herbs. Or nix the restaurant experience and opt for a boza stand in the streets, a traditional fermented drink made with wheat and spices. And let’s not forget about the meyhane, a local tavern that offers an endless supply of meze and raki, a Turkish liquor akin to anise-flavored brandy.

Cultural Experiences: Immerse Yourself in Istanbul

Istanbul offers a rich and unique cultural experience that stems from its location as the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Take a deep dive into the city’s Ottoman heritage by visiting the Dolmabahce Palace, the seat of Ottoman Sultans and the President of Turkey, or by watching a belly dancing show at a traditional Turkish restaurant in the lively neighborhood of Beyoglu.

For art enthusiasts, Istanbul has a wealth of contemporary art galleries such as Istanbul Modern, a museum with a stunning view of the Bosphorus Strait, and ARTER, which focuses on the cutting-edge art form link between the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Europe.

Local History: Discovering the Intriguing Stories of Istanbul

Istanbul’s history is rich and full of intrigue and mystery. Discover the legend of the Executioner’s Palace, where the strange tale of an unlucky executioner who unwittingly beheaded his own daughter is recounted. Or, take a walk through the gardens of Yıldız Palace, once a summer residence of the Ottoman sultans, and learn the story of the eunuchs’ quarters.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Suggestions: Experiencing Istanbul Like a Local

If you want to experience Istanbul like a local, avoid the tourist traps. Visit the Chinese Bazaar, where you can shop for exotic spices and fresh herbs used in Turkish cuisine, or hop on a city ferry and head to the Kadikoy neighborhood, which is full of young people, artists, and a thriving food culture.

Another unique experience is to attend the Whirling Dervishes ceremony, where Sufi Muslim followers engage in a traditional dance as a form of meditation.

Final Thoughts:

Istanbul offers a wealth of experiences beyond the typical tourist spots. Through its hidden gems, cultural experiences, rich history, and off-the-beaten-path destinations, Istanbul will surprise and delight anyone who is willing to explore. We hope this insider’s guide helps you to discover the Istanbul’s unique and unexpected nuances and make your visit to the city a memorable one.


How to Plan Your Istanbul Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Guided Tour

Experience Adventure Like Never Before: Book Your Tour Today!