Does anyone know if these are commonly visited by tourists? Can anyone recommend solid guides who might be able to explain some of the history of the cisterns?
@schultjh I visited them in 2008 and there was a solid tourist infrastructure in place down there with explanations, etc. Didn’t feel like a spot that needed a guide. Did you end up going?
When I last visited (also around 2008), guides were not needed. I think you just walked up and bought a ticket.
BTW, if you did miss it on the trip, you could always just watch From Russia With Love:
Yes, this is one of the major tourist attractions in Istanbul. They entrance is right in Sultanahmet just across the street from the Hagia Sophia.
I did end up going! And did not take a guide and can confirm that this is a heavily touristed spot. Nonetheless beautiful.
Another interesting feature to see is that two of the columns are setting on carved stone medusa heads. These are probably capitals from old Roman buildings that were repurposed to support columns when the cistern was built. One is upside down and the other is on its side.