Istanbul is a city blessed with incredible tourist attractions. Having been the capital of the Eastern Roman and Ottoman empire, this city posseses immense culture and historical artifacts which continues to draw the heart of tourists and art enthusiasts, and if you are one of such, then there is something grand to bless your eyes and memory with when you take our free walking tour Istanbul: The roman cisterns of Istanbul!
During the reign of the Roman empire, a lot of cisterns were built underground in Istanbul to cater for the water needs of the people during those times. In more recent times, these cisterns have become more of Istanbul’s cultural heritage or treasures, and have done outstandingly well in attracting tourists from all over the world. .
The hundreds of underground cisterns built during those ancient times were specifically for holding water as a form of storage to prevent water scarcity during summer, as water resources were insufficient. Over the years, most of these cisterns dried up and became less and less attractive, but of all these, the Basilica Cistern has stood the test of time and remains one of the grandest tourists attraction in Turkey up till this day.
Take a Trip to the Historical Roman Cisterns on Istanbul Tours
Are you a lover of ancient historical monuments? Stuck with a delayed flight and In need of an Istanbul private tour guide for a quick Istanbul layover tour? Then worry no more. We offer the best Istanbul layover tours with the best tour guide in Istanbul. We give you the best rates for a marvelous and memorable trip to any of the following ancient Roman cisterns in Istanbul.
- Basilica Cistern
Take a free walking tour Istanbul through the midst of ancient giant columns in the largest and most glamorous Roman cistern in Istanbul. Commonly referred to as the Yerebatan cistern and stretching over 143×65 square metres in area, the Basilica cistern stands as the largest cistern in all of Istanbul, and attracts the largest number of tourists per year. In 2017, there was over a million tourist visitation at the Basilica Cistern.
This gigantic subterranean structure is said to have been built by Emperor Justinian I during his reign for the purpose of supplying water to the people during the summer days. There are 336 marble columns holding the roof, each 9-metre tall. Surprisingly, this historical wonder was forgotten for years until 1545 when a French researcher, Petrus Gyllius, noticed that the locals were getting water and even catching fish in their basements.
The Basilica cistern is open to the public, and you can walk into the space through a flight of stairs. The subdued lightings and ambient temperature immediately welcomes you to this amazing cistern, and make sure you walk to the far left-hand corner to get a good view of the two gigantic Medusa heads: one lying sideways, the other upside down, and both used as column bases. But no, calm your nerves, you are not going to turn into stone when you stare at the Medusa heads.
The rectangular concept, symmetry and sheer grandeur of the Basilica cistern are quite breathtaking, and the cool ambient temperature make for a great Istanbul tour on hot summer days.
- Binbirdirek Cistern
Known as the second largest Roman cistern in Istanbul, the Binbirdirek Cistern located to the west of the Hippodrome, is naturally impressive as a tourist attraction. It has a land area of 3610 square metres with 212 columns. Originally, this alluring and gigantic piece of artwork was built in the 4th century and stood on 224 marble-stone columns until it got destroyed by a fire in 475 A.D. It was later renovated by Justinian I in the 6th century but got abandoned as a result of the Ottoman conquest in 1453. During this time, the Binbirdirek cistern completely dried up and went out of memory until the 1600s, when a palace construction project began upon the same site above where the cistern was lying dormant. Percieved as a true historical monument and cultural heritage of the Turks, the Binbirdirek Cistern has been restored once again and is now open to tourists and Turks alike. So whether you’re Turkish or a foreign visitor on a business or pleasure trip, why not make out time so see this important and amazing part of Turkish history?
There are two entrances to the Binbirdirek Cistern: either through the new building in the little park above the cistern or through the grand doorway on Imran Öktem Caddesi close to the Adliye Sarayı. Although there is an entrance fee, rest assured your interest will be protected when you go with the best tour guide in Istanbul.
- Nuruosmaniye Cellar
The presence of this historical Roman structure was only just discovered in 2013, when the Nuruosmaniye Mosque underwent reconstruction. Although it was percieved that a field laid deep beneath the foundation of the ancient mosque, it was left undisturbed as it was covered with nothing but waste material. So, during the reconstruction of the mosque, the ground was dug up to 8.5 metres deep and the cistern which looked just like an open field was discovered, comprising of over thirty different compartments.
This exotic structure cannot be left unused, and has already been redesigned and used as a crucial spot for social events. In the following years to come, the Nuruosmaniye Cellar promises to become a renowed center for tourism in Istanbul.
- Fildami Cistern
The most notable open-space cistern is the Fildami Cistern in Bakirköy. Although this ancient structure doesn’t hold much as it may have had in its earlier days, it is still a wonderful ancient Istanbul sight to see and is often used as a special event centre.
- Aspar Cistern
This cistern can be seen at Çukurbostan, and is now used as a great spot for Istanbul sporting activities.
- Sultan Cistern
This is one of the largest closed-space cisterns in Istanbul. Although the original construction time of this cistern is not exactly known, it appears to date between 500 and 600 A.D. This cistern has recently been convered to the Sultan Sarnıç, a privately owned restaurant, so expect to have some nice lunch at this cistern while savoring the view of its 2.8 m thick marble walls lined with hydraulic plaster.
Other Roman cisterns which an Istanbul private tour guide can take you to are the Unkapanı Cistern underneath the Zeyrek Mosque, Şerefiye Cistern which is now a huge oart of Istanbul cultural heritage, the Eşrefiye Street Cistern, the Sphendon Cistern amongst others.
Get the Best Tour Guide in Istanbul
So are you looking for an Istanbul private tour guide to take you through the streets and undergrounds of this historical city? Your best tour guide Istanbul is just a click away! Make a booking today and get ready for an adventurous trip to the Roman cisterns of Istanbul.