Hippodrome - Atmaydani, Istanbul

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  • midnight_mike's Profile Photo

    The Hippodrome

    by midnight_mike Written May 27, 2006

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    Just south of the Blue Mosque, there is an oval-shaped road. This was the site of the Hippodrome, where 100,000 spectators watched chariot races. At its center, three monuments offer clues as to the prominence of this stadium.

    The Constantine Column, 105 feet in height, was erected by Constantine. It had been covered with bronze plates, but those were removed in 1204 by Venetians who sacked the city. Standing 55 feet high, the 3,500-year-old Obelisk of Theodosius was brought to Constantinople in 390 A.D. from the Temple of Karnak in Egypt. In addition to these two monuments, there is the Serpentine Column, commemorating the Greek victory over the Persians in 479 B.C. It was removed from Delphi during Constantine’s reign. Unfortunately, the snake heads have been detached, one of which can be found in the Istanbul Archeological Museum.

    The southern edge of the stadium, which the locals call the Sfendon wall, is the only remaining part of the Hippodrome. To find it, head along the first road southeast of the Constantine Column and look for an ancient wall to your right.

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    Hippodrome Monument Istanbul

    by fachd Updated Sep 3, 2007

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    The Hippodrome is in the old part of Istanbul. The name has change to Sultanahmet square district. The district is rich in history and architecture. There are many well known historical sights. During Constantine reigned the Hippodrome was used for political, social life and sporting event. Citizens of Rome can raised their voice of discontentment and quite often it leads to riots and killing fields. Thousand of spectators watched chariot races and gladiators in combat. In the Hippodrome there are three well known monuments. See the photos of the three monuments.

    The first monument is the 3500 year old Obelisk of Theodosius the First was originally from the Temple of Karnak in ancient Egypt. It was erected at the current sight by the Byzantine emperor Theodosius the First in 390 AD. It is Istanbul oldest monument.

    The second monument is the roughly built obelisk known as Orme Sutun was originally covered with bronze plaques. The Venetians in 1204 during the 4th crusade sacked and looted the city.

    The third monument is the sculpture of the three headed serpent spiral bronze bought from Delphi in Greece to commemorate the Greek victory in 479 B.C. The snake heads is missing.

    The 3500 year old Obelisk of Theodosius the First Orme Sutun The three misiing headed serpent Tourist More tourist
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    The Constantinople Hippodrome

    by H-TownJourneyman Updated Feb 19, 2007

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    In 324 AD, Roman emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman empire to Constantinople, & organized a major renovation of the city, including the Hippodrome, where chariot races took place. The chariot races held here were one of the city's biggest social events, & the people of Constantinople loyally supported one team or another. So loyal was the following that it often led to disputes, even riots! (Ummm, can you say present-day soccer fans?!) The Nika Riots in 532 AD left half of the city destroyed & 30,000 people dead. When Constantinople was sacked in 1204 during the 4th Crusade, the Hippodrome was left in ruins. It was never rebuilt, & after the Ottomans took control of the city in 1453, most of it was either used for new structures, or was simply covered up with new structures being built on top.

    The present-day Sultanahmet area is where the Hippodrome was located, & there is almost nothing left of the stadium itself. Where the center of the track once was, called the Spina, there are 3 monuments still standing, each having an interesting tale themselves -

    The Tripod of Plataea, known as the Serpentine Column, a monument celebrating Greek victory over Persia in the 5th cent. BC, originally stood at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, Greece. Constantine ordered it to be moved from Delphi to the Spina of the Hippodrome. Only the base of it remains.

    The Obelisk of Theodosius originally stood in Luxor, Egypt at the Temple of Karnak, dating back to the reign of Tuthmosis III around 1500 BC. The emperor Theodosius had it cut into 3 pieces & brought back to Constantinople in 390 AD, where he erected only the top portion.

    The Walled Obelisk, or Column of Constantine VII, was erected by emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the 10th cent. AD. It had been covered in bronze plates, but they were taken by the crusaders.

    Even though the Hippodrome itself no longer stands, it is quite interesting to stand next to these monuments, & just imagine a stadium filled with 100,000 screaming fans! Amazing!

    Location of the Spina of the Hippodrome Obelisk Of Theodosius aka Tuthmosis III Obelisk Pedestal Of The Obelisk Of Theodosius Walled Obelisk aka Column Of Constantine VII
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    HIPPODROME & ANCIENT COLUMNS

    by balhannah Updated Aug 6, 2009

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    THE "Hippodrome" also known as "The Horse Square" in the Ottoman period, is located near the Blue Mosque.

    During the Byzantine period, chariot races were held here. The square was the most central region in that period, where important activities were held such as various entertainments, coronation ceremonies and victory parades.
    It was a huge area, with a width of 117 metres, and length of 480 meters, and could hold a capacity of 100 thousand people.

    Also located here, are another three important monuments............
    THE EGYPTIAN OBELISK........ 1500BC, Which Constantine transported from Luxor, Egypt.

    THE SERPENTINE COLUMN.....479BC, From the Temple of Apollo at Delphi in Greece.

    THE COLUMN OF CONSTANTINE VII PORPHRYOGENITUS........Is of unknown date and was named after the Emperor who had it restored in the 10th century.

    ALL ARE FREE TO WANDER AROUND.

    THE STADIUM once had four great bronze Horses, but these were looted by the crusaders in 1204, and now are in St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice, so, at least they weren't lost for good in history!

    View of the Columns @ Hippodrome
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    Hipodrom

    by traveloturc Written Jan 3, 2007

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    The square in front of the Blue Mosque covers the site of the ancient "Hippodrome", one of the most famous areas in Byzantine Constantinople.
    The original Hippodrome was constructed in 200 AD. by Emperor Septimus Severus, when he rebuilt the town of Byzantium. After Severus, Constantine the Great made Constantinople new capital and gave much more importance to this area. The Hippodrome was the heart of the civil activities. Propaganda activities, rebellions, fightings and eventually chariot races took place in this area. The Hippodrome continued to serve as primarily a sports center as well as a gathering place of the people for centuries during the Byzantium Era. After the Ottomans took over, it was also used for the same purpose.

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    The Hippodrome

    by Paul2001 Written Dec 6, 2004

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    For a century the Hippodrome was the centre of the political and commerical life of the Byzantine Empire. The sight was originally the location of chariot races between the "Blues" and the "Greens". Although nothing remains of it today, there was a huge 100,000 seat stadium here were the races took place. The spectators were broken up into different factions, they being the "Reds", "Whites", the "Blues" and the "Greens". The latter two groups would eventually become politicalized and would often riot in the Hippodrome.
    Besides the stadium, the Hippodrome was adorned with many decorative monuments, several of which still stand today. First and foremost of these is the Obelisk of Tutmosis III. This is a obelisk, dating from 1450 B.C., was placed here in 390 A.D. Amazingly only one third of the original monument made it to this spot, the rest being lost in transport from its first home at the Temple of Luxor in Egypt.
    The obelisk is covered with hieroglyphics and sits on top of a pedestal built by the Emperor Theodosius. The features of the pedestal are now eroded but the condition of the obelisk is almost as good as new.
    Other monuments in the Hippodrome include the Fountain of Wilhelm II (Alman Çesmesi) and the Serpentine Column. The Hippodrome fell to ruin when the city was captured by Crusaders during the Fourth Crusade. Today the Hippodrome is essentially a park were families tend to relax and drink tea at nearby cafes.
    The Hippodrome was the first of Istanbul's attraction that I visited. This was of course because I stayed virtually across the street from it. This was a good thing because the place is usually full of tourists and touts. I was able to visit it early in the morning before the hordes showed up.

    The Obelisk of Tutmosis III in the Hippodrome
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    the Spires of the Hippodrome

    by caffeine_induced78 Written Apr 10, 2004

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    Just west of the Blue Mosque, so close that you may as well see these.

    Back in the day, first with the Byzantines and then with the Ottomans this was the scene where political uneasiness fermented into uprisings.

    Now several monuments inhabit the spot that is now just a tourist attraction.

    In the foreground is the spiral shaped Snake Column which was originally much taller. It originally stood in the town of Delphi to commemerate the victory over the Persians by the Hellenic Confederation from 478 BC until about 330 AD, when Constatine the Great had it moved here.

    In the background is the Obelisk of Theodosius which was originally carved from Granite and erected in Egypt in around 1500 BC. The Byzantine emperor Theodosius had it transported to Constaninople in 390 AD.

    Notice that the taller Obelisk was moved here only 60 years after the Spiral.

    We call that one-upmanship.

    oneupmanship
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    Hipodrom and Museum of Islamic Arts

    by mindcrime Updated May 11, 2011

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    Sultanahmet is the historical part of Istanbul so we had the opportunity to see many landmarks of the city like Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque, Palace Cistern, The Hipodrome Square, The Turkish And Islamic Arts Museum, the Topkapi palace etc.

    Early in the morning the first site we visited at Sultanahmet was the Hipodrome. Although today it is just a square (Sultanahmet Meydani) it used to be a big race circus but you have to imagine about it because there are not many fragments survived from that era. It was first built when the city was called Byzantium although it became popular and much bigger (holiding 100,000 people!) during Constantine the Great days when the city was called Constantinople.

    We visited the Serpent Column that was built to celebrate the victory of the Greeks against Persians in Persian Wars. Actually, it was called the Tripod of Plataea and was originally in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi in Greece. It was an impressive bronze column with a 8metre high serpent heads at the top that got stolen during the 4th crusade. Not much to see today except the base.

    Then we visited the Walled Obelisk which was 32metres high and was originally decorated with gilded bronze plaques but again the crusaders needed some extra income so they stolen them.

    Probably the most impressive monument on the area is the Obelisk of Theodosius(pic 1). Theodosius the Great brought from Egypt in 390AD. The obelisk was originally erected in Luxor back in 1490BC during Tuthmosis III kingdom (so I was impressed that I was in front of a piece of granite that was carved more than 3000 years before!!!). What see today is only the top of 3 different pieces that Thedosius brought to Constantinople.

    Finally, at the northern end of Hipodrome we saw the German Fountain (pic 2). It was built in Germany in neo-byzantine style and transferred piece by piece in Istanbul in 1900 to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of german emperor Wilhelm II to Istanbul in 1898.

    It was already 9.00am so we visited Museum of Islamic Arts(pic 3) which is located at the former palace of Ibrahim Pasha(1493-1536) that was the grand Vezir (and friend) of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. It houses a collection of 40,000 items covering a long period from the first period of Islam (7th century) till 20th century. We were impressed of some special carpets and some special carved woods. There are also glass, porcelain and stone items. Most of the art are religious themed of course but we also enjoyed some ethnographic exhibits like a full scale model of a nomad tent from 19th century. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 9.00-17.00 and the entrance fee is 10TL.

    Obelisk of Theodosius German Fountain Museum of Islamic Arts
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    Hippodrome of Constantinople

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Updated May 9, 2009

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    The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople. Today it is a square with only a few fragments of the original structure surviving, such as the Serpent Column, the Obelisk of Theodosius and the Walled Obelisk. It is sometimes also called Atmeydani (Horse Square) or Sultanahmet Meydani in Turkish.

    You can watch my 3 min 24 sec HQ Video Istanbul Sultanahmet Area out of my Youtube channel with Turkish pop music by Kayahan - Karabiberim.

    Hippodrome of Constantinople Hippodrome of Constantinople Hippodrome of Constantinople Hippodrome of Constantinople Hippodrome of Constantinople
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    Hippodrome - At Meydani

    by hadrian Updated Oct 18, 2003

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    Unfortunately there is nothing left from the giant stadium ( 117m wide and 480m long with a capacity of 100.000 spectators ) built by Emperor Septimus Sever in the IIIrd century having as model, Circus Maximus from Rome. The spine, the central line, was decorated with obelisks and columns brought from Greece and Egypt. What survived is the Egyptian Obelisk ( Dikilitas ) having 25m, erected in the name of the Pharaoh Thutmosis the Third in front of the temple of Amon-Ra in Karnak in 15th century BC and brought from Luxor by Theodosius the First in 390 AD. The obelisk is placed on a base showing Theodosius and his family in kathisma, the imperial grandstand. Nearby there is The Snake’s Column ( Yilanli Sutun ) brought from Apollo’s temple from Delphi ( it was a huge bronze incense burner ). A Polish nobleman destroyed the heads of the snakes in the XVIIIth century. One of the heads can be found at the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul. There, the column that had on the top four bronze horses does not exist anymore; it was robed during the 4th crusade and can be found now in Venice, in San Marco square. ( Wouldn’t it be nice if Italians would return them to the place where they have once belonged )

    Dikilitas - Kathisma
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    Sfendon Wall

    by Sirvictor Updated May 10, 2006

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    There is a wall in Sultan Ahmet which many tourists don't know. It is the last rest of Hippodrome reached to our time. It is called "Sfendon Wall". Emperor Septimus Severus began to build the Hipodrome in Byzans in AC 200 according to the muster of Roman Circus Naximus. Constantine the 1st enlarged the building. Hipo had the capacity of 30-40000. The semi rounded edge of the Hipo was called "Sfendon"

    Sfendon Wall

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    Hippodrome

    by AcornMan Updated Apr 24, 2004

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    One interesting place to walk around and take in the sites is the Hippodrome, located in Sultanahmet right next to the Blue Mosque. This is the central tourist location of the city, and from here you can get to nearly all the major attractions in the city by walking. There are also a ton of restaurants and hotels in this area.

    The problem with the central location of the Hippodrome and surrounding area is that it is absolutely saturated with the aforementioned pesky salespeople and would-be tour guides. After a day or two you'll figure out how to deal with them, but it can be quite overwhelming at first.

    This is the impressive Obelisk at the Hippodrome. Don't stop too long for your picture though, or the hawkers will never leave you alone!

    Obelisk at the Hippodrome

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    Byzantine Hippodrome

    by viajeras2 Updated Aug 22, 2007

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    With a capacity of 100,000 spectators, the Hippodrome was the scene for the political struggles and the uprisings in the capital city of the Empire. The construcction of the race tracks and the cavea started in the reign of Emperos Septimus Severus and were completed a hundred years lated under Constantine the Great. The stones from the structure were used in the construction of the Blue Mosque. the only thing that remains from the hippodrome are the three monumental columns and a fountain.

    Is important to know the granite obelisk was brought from the temple of Carnac on the river Nile by the Roman emperor Thedosius. The second one is the "Column of the Serpent", brought from the Temple of Apollo in Delphi and the last one is the a present from German Kaiser Wilhelm II to the Ottoman dinasty.

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    Bizantine Hippodrome

    by manuelEB Updated Aug 17, 2003

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    Istanbul is a wonderful city, and the pictures only tell half of the story. I hope you are enjoying browsing through these Istanbul pages as much as I enjoyed my trip and as much as I am enjoying going through my memories to write the accompanying tips. Please, come back soon, you will find new information in your next visit.

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    Sultanahmet2

    by manuelEB Updated Aug 17, 2003

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    Istanbul is a wonderful city, and the pictures only tell half of the story. I hope you are enjoying browsing through these Istanbul pages as much as I enjoyed my trip and as much as I am enjoying going through my memories to write the accompanying tips. Please, come back soon, you will find new information in your next visit.

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