Cistern is built in 527 by Emperor Iustinianos I(527-565) and constructed in order to convey water for Hagia Saphia and Emperorship Palace.

Cistern is named after basilica, which is located here in advance and in the position of cultural center. Furthermore, it is known as Iustinianos Cistern. When Turks, who come to Anatolia firstly, encounter with a cistern, take it for an underground column forest for the first time, they call here as Yereban Cistern because they likened this place to a palace, going down the ground.

Cistern is used to be fed by water, carried by Valens (Bozdoğan) aqueducts. Basilica Cistern is the single cistern, maintaining its function in Istanbul up to the close periods. So, it provided water even for Topkapı Palaca gardens. Basilica Cistern is in the form of rectangle and in the sizes 65 x 138 m. There are 336 columns (12 x 28), carrying cross vaults with 8 meters ground clearance in the cistern. It is seen that two mythological marmoreal Medusa’s heads, of which one is side and the other is upside down, are put under two short columns in the cistern. After restoration and cleaning work is made within the cistern by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality between 1985-1987, walkways are built into the cistern and it is opened for public visit.