Byzantine Hippodrome, Istanbul

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  • Walled Obelisk, Istanbul, TR
    Walled Obelisk, Istanbul, TR
    by TrendsetterME
  • Walled Obelisk, Istanbul, TR
    Walled Obelisk, Istanbul, TR
    by TrendsetterME
  • Walled Obelisk, Istanbul, TR
    Walled Obelisk, Istanbul, TR
    by TrendsetterME
  • solopes's Profile Photo

    Just a garden

    by solopes Updated Dec 26, 2013
    Istanbul - Turkey
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    It's interesting to know that... once... there was a byzantine hippodrome in that place.

    Nowadays we have a modern garden, with a few old columns: an obelisk brought from Egypt, a spiral column from Delphi, and the biggest and ugliest one that, it seems, was originally covered with bronze. It occupies the area adjacent to Saint Sophie and Blue Mosque but only reading the guides you will find out that... once...

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  • TrendsetterME's Profile Photo

    Walled Obelisk, Istanbul, TR

    by TrendsetterME Updated Jul 10, 2013
    Walled Obelisk, Istanbul, TR
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    "The Walled Obelisk" (also known as the Constantine Obelisk) is situated near the Serpentine Column at the southern side of the Sultanahmet Square (Hippodrome of Constantinople) in Istanbul.

    The 32 m (105 ft)-high obelisk was constructed of roughly cut stones by Constantine VII. Its exact construction date is unknown, but it is named after Constantine VII after he repaired it in the tenth century. At that time, it was reportedly decorated with gilded bronze plaques that portrayed the victories of Basil I who was the grandfather of Constantine VII. Also there was a sphere at the top of obelisk. However, reportedly these gilded bronze plaques were stolen and melted down by Fourth Crusaders in 1204.

    Since young Janissaries liked to use the obelisk to climb and show their prowess, the obelisk suffered further damage to its surface.

    The Walled Obelisk was depicted on the reverse of the Turkish 500 lira banknotes of 1953-1976.

    The Walled Obelisk has many names including, “Walled Column” and “Constantine Obelisk”. Located in the former Byzantine Hippodrome, what is now a beautiful park was once where fierce chariot races were held. After the Ottomans conquered the city in 1453, the importance of the Hippodrome wavered yet this column built around the 10th century survived.

    Just next to the Sultanahmet Mosque, about 5 mins walking distance ... :)

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  • vpas's Profile Photo

    Stroll around and take pictures!

    by vpas Written Dec 13, 2012

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    The Hippodrome is a place for good photos and walking around. Eat hot chestnuts and drink the hot flavoured milk sold around and generally stroll around the area. There are columns with inscriptions that speak about Egyptian/Turkish History.

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  • solopes's Profile Photo

    History framing history

    by solopes Updated Sep 25, 2012

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    Istanbul - Turkey
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    Facing Sainte Sophie, a large square was a Byzantine hippodrome, now transformed in a gardened avenue.

    It's highlights (excluded the surrounding marvels) are two obelisks and the ruins of a third one.

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  • Raimix's Profile Photo

    Obelisk of Theodosius

    by Raimix Updated Feb 6, 2012

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    Theodosius obelisk stands in former Hippodrome area from 390. Interesting fact enough, that obelisk was bought from Egypt; it is originally around 3500 years old. Anyway, Emperor changed the carving scenes with his own scenes, but after some time carvings gone and only Egyptian hieroglyphs left.

    Nowadays obelisk is still in so good condition, as I wonder how high qualities were buildings of those ancient times.

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  • Raimix's Profile Photo

    Spiral Column

    by Raimix Updated Feb 6, 2012

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    Column was originally from Ancient Greece (478 BC), a structure to commemorate Greek victory against Persians. Few hundred years later (in 330) Constantine the Great bought it and placed in its present location.

    Spiral column is not a full structure – higher part of it presented heads of three snakes (until 18th century).

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  • mtncorg's Profile Photo

    HIPPODROME/GERMAN FOUNTAIN

    by mtncorg Written Nov 15, 2011

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    The German Fountain
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    The Hippodrome was a main center of life in Byzantine times. A stadium capable of holding some 100,000 spectators once stood here where now open parks give Istanbul an open living room amidst historical splendor. I was here during Ramazan and most of the western side of the park was taken up by a vast crafts fair. There are several ancient columns which used to stand in the middle of the Hippodrome chariot tracks. The Egyptian Obelisk dates to the 16th century BC and was brought here in 390 AD by Theodosius. The Serpentine Column commemorates the Greek victory over the Persians at Plataea in 479 BC. It was sent north from Delphi by Constantine. Another column dating from the 10th century used to be covered with metal tablets which have been stripped off with time.

    At the northern end of the former Hippodrome is a more modern monument given to the city in commemoration of a visit by German Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1900.

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  • Huks's Profile Photo

    Historical Mix

    by Huks Written Oct 2, 2011
    Hippodrome of Constantinople

    Hippodrome of Constantinople is very ancient place. Today it isn't more than place for walking but some time ago there was chariot racing.
    There are various monuments from Roman empire: Serpent Column, Obelisk of Thutmose III, Walled Obelisk, Statues of Porphyrios.
    I would like to see Serpent Column renewed, but otherwise this is good place before entering to Blue Mosque.

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  • Perfect chill out

    by Dinaelghitany Written Sep 10, 2011

    After a really long day of running around sites and buildings, it's just great to end up there. An excellent reward for the kids for being so patient, is letting them feed the pigeons. A great photographic spot,too.

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  • pieter_jan_v's Profile Photo

    Dikilitas (Egyptian Obelisk)

    by pieter_jan_v Written Jun 15, 2011
    Dikilitas (Egyptian Obelisk) - Istanbul
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    The Dikilitas (Egyptian Obelisk) a.k.a. Theodosius obelisk was erected in the 16th century B.C. by Pharaoh Thutmosis III in honor of the God of Sun Amon Ra in the city of Teb, Egypt in front of the temple of Luxor. The hieroglyphic pictograms tell stories of many battle victories of the Pharaoh.

    In 390 A.D it was brought to Istanbul by emperor Theodosius I for the decoration of the ancient Hippodrome or Meydani, constructed by emperor Septimus Severus at the start of third century.

    The 19 meter high obelisk is covered on all four sides with hieroglyphic pictograms and stands on a marble base with many friezes depicting the Emperor and his family. It has been discovered that the last five meters of the Obelisk is missing from the bottom, probably broken during the transportation.

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  • TheLongTone's Profile Photo

    ...Twisted

    by TheLongTone Updated Dec 26, 2010

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    A very tricky bit of cast bronze....

    The Hippodrome is a thought-provoking monument to the millenia-old custom of looting

    At the Southern end is the Rough Column. Used to be covered in plates of gold. Naturally, they are long gone. Believed to be those crusaders in 1204.

    Next along is this, the 'Twisted column' which originally supported a sacrificial basin in Ephesus. Dates from the fifth century BC. Looted by Constantine himself. Originally the intertwined seerpent's bodies culminated in a bronze head: these went missing in 1700. (part of one is on display in the archeological museum.) As with it's companions. its base is considerably below present-day street level.

    And thirdly, a looted Egyptian obelisk. Most interesting for the Byzantine plinth upon which it is placed: one face of this shows the erection of the obelisk and is so one of the rare bits of firm evidence we have concerning Classica/medaeval technology.

    Incidentally, the archaeological museum should have Helen of Troy's headdress in it. But Schliemann nicked it and took it to Berlin, from whence it was looted in 1945. Probably lost forever.

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  • al2401's Profile Photo

    A Slice of History

    by al2401 Updated Sep 14, 2010

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    Egyptian Obelisk - Hippodrome - Istanbul
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    Now a part of Sultanahmet Square, the Hippodrome was once one of the largest tracks in the ancient world - second only to the Circus Maximus in Rome. It is now a landscaped park following the road from Sultanahmet Mosque to Hagia Sophia. Its construction started in 203 AD.

    The Hippodrome is now an open-air museum displaying relics of ancient and not so ancient times. The oldest is the Egyptian Obelisk from the 15th century BC and brought from Egypt by the then Emperor Theodosius I. I is made from pink granite and was originally 32.5 metres high. It was reduced to 20 metres for transportation and now sits on a marble plinth. The plinth was constructed in 389 AD and depicts scenes of the activities of the Hippodrome.

    The column of Constatntine dates from the 10th century and its 32 metre height was covered with decorated copper and brass. This was removed during the invasion of the 13th century and used to make coins.

    The latest structure in the Hippodrome is the Kaiser Wilhelm or German Fountain. It ws a gift from the Kaiser in 1898 as he was impressed by the hospitality he received upon his second visit to Turkey.

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  • MM212's Profile Photo

    Roman Hippodrome

    by MM212 Updated Jul 29, 2010

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    4th century AD pediment - Jan 2010
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    Built in 203 AD by Emperor Septimius Severus, and enlarged by Constantine the Great, the Roman Hippodrome of Constantinople once seated as many as 100,000 spectators. Although the actual structure gradually disappeared to nothing over the centuries (its stones were used to construct the Blue Mosque), the footprint of the race track has survived remarkably intact. It is now an elongated urban park called At Meydanı, which means Horse Square, a name that refers to its use as a horse market under the Ottomans. Also extant within At Meydanı are some of the monuments imported by various Emperors to decorate the centre of the racetrack. Chief among them is the Egyptian Obelisk, carved in 1450 BC and brought in from Heliopolis by Emperor Theodosius, and its carved marble pediment made in 390 AD. The Spiral Column to the south of it dates from 478 BC and was moved from the Temple of Apollo in Delphi by Emperor Constantine in 330 AD. Further south is a damaged obelisk whose origins are known, but its bronze casing was removed by the Crusaders who sacked Constantinople in 1204 AD. They also stole the quadriga, the group of four bronze horses, which had been mounted on a non-extant column at the northern end of the racetrack. The quadriga was subsequently moved to Venice where it it can still be seen at the Basilica di San Marco.

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  • muratkorman's Profile Photo

    Imagine the chariots ...

    by muratkorman Written May 22, 2010

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    Hippodrome is located in Sultanahmet area around Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque which we now call Sultanahmet Square. This used to be the place where chariots and horses were racing during Byzantian era and later during Ottoman era Cirit (an ancient Turkish game played with horses) was played in this area. There are 4 interesting spots to check in Hippodrome. The first one is the German Fountain with beautiful details. The second one is the obelisk from Egypy. The thid one is the Serpents Column and the last one is Walled Obelisk. While visiting the main attractions suh as Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia or Blue Mosque, you can give a break to see the Hippodrome.

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  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    Kaiser Wilhelm's Fountain

    by Willettsworld Written Mar 1, 2010
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    This octagonal domed fountain in neo-Byzantine style, was constructed by the German government in 1900 to mark the German Emperor Wilhelm II's visit to Istanbul in 1898. It is located at the northern entrance to the Hippodrome area, right in front of the Blue Mosque. The bronze inscription on the reservoir, which is written in German, reads (in English) "German Kaiser Wilhelm II, who constructed this fountain in 1898 autumn, as a gratitude remembrance for his visit to Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II".

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