This building is located outside the front of the Hagia Sophia, next to the fountain in Sultan Ahmet Square and used to be part of the mosque's compound as, traditionally, every mosque had a hamam (bath) in or around its complex. Designed by Sinan between 1556 and 1557, it was built by Suleiman in the name of his wife Hürrem Sultan, known in Europe as Roxelana. The hamam was one of 32 Sinan designed and is widely thought to be his best but it was being renovated when I visited in Dec 2009.
The German Fountain is a gazebo styled fountain in the northern end of old hippodrome (Sultanahmet Square). It was constructed to commemorate the second anniversary of German Emperor Wilhelm II's visit to Istanbul in 1898.
It was built in Germany, then transported piece by piece and assembled in its current site in 1900. The neo-Byzantine style fountain's octagonal dome has eight marble columns, and dome's interior is covered with golden mosaics.
You can watch my 4 min 32 sec HQ Video Istanbul Hippodrome and German Fountain out of my Youtube channel with Laibach - Volk Turkiye.
In the 10th century the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus built another obelisk at the other end of the Hippodrome. It was originally covered with gilded bronze plaques, but they were sacked by Latin troops in the Fourth Crusade. The stone core of this monument also survives, known as the Walled Obelisk.
Another emperor to adorn the Hippodrome was Theodosius the Great, who in 390 brought an obelisk from Egypt and erected it inside the racing track. Carved from pink granite, it was originally erected at the Temple of Karnak in Luxor during the reign of Tuthmosis III in about 1490 BC.
Theodosius had the obelisk cut into three pieces and brought to Constantinople. Only the top section survives, and it stands today where Theodosius placed it, on a marble pedestal. The obelisk has survived nearly 3,500 years in astonishingly good condition.
Serpent Column is also known as the Delphi Tripod or the Plataean Tripod is an ancient column at the Hippodrome. It is an ancient Greek sacrificial tripod, originally located in Delphi (where I’ve been and saw the place where it had been located that time). Later it was relocated to Constantinople by Constantine I in 324.
The serpent heads of the 8-meter high column remained until the end of the 17th century. One of the missing heads was later found and put on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.
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.
This mosoleum and cemetery is an interesting place to visit and a nice stop on the walk from the Sultanahmet area to the Grand Bazaar. You can visit the mosoleum which contains the tombs of Sultan Mahmut II and his sons Sultan Abdulmecit and Sultan Abdulaziz. All ruled during the 19th century and were known for their modernizing reforms. Sultan Mahmut II is the sultan in the historical detective novel "The Jannisary Tree." The small cemetery is full of the interesting graves of pashas and princesses. Walk to the back of the cemetery and there is a charming little tea garden. It's a nice shady, peaceful place when you need a few minutes break to recoup from the onslaught of carpet sellers. It does sound kind of creepy to have tea there, I admit, but if you take a peek you'll see that it is a nice place.
If it's your first time in Istanbul, it would be advisable to do the ''obligatory'' sights first in Sultanahmet area - Aya Sofya. Blue Mosque, and surrounding areas. Nothing beats the excitement and the adrenaline rush as you drop your bags at the hotel, freshen up and hit the ground running (despite the sleepless evening flight!). It is at this point that your interest and excitement are at their peak and you simply have to rush to do the sights.
After that, you could go back to hotel, get some much-needed sleep, and experience Istanbul nightlife.
Alman Çesmesi, commonly referred to as The German Fountain, was dedicated in 1901 to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of German Kaiser Wilhelm II's 1898 visit to Istanbul. The domed-styled fountain was actually made in Germany, and shipped to Istanbul in pieces, where it was assembled and sited next to the location of the Spina of the ancient Constantinople Hippodrome. Today, there is more debate on the reasons why this fountain was even placed here than an actual appreciation of it as a historical structure. Many visitors to Istanbul either pass it up altogether while viewing the Blue Mosque and Ayasofya, or snap a quick picture of it, not knowing what it is. Yet the speculations of its construction, ranging from the idea that the German emperor had his eye on taking over the Ottoman Empire, to his wanting a monument placed on the old location of the Byzantine Sacred Palace, are still debated, and frequently more interesting than the fountain itself! :)
The Sultanahmet area of Istanbul is a lively, albeit, touristy part of the city. This is the true "old section" of the city, with a history stretching back well over two millennia, a history buff's dream! :) Some of the most well known attractions in all of Istanbul are located in and around this area, including Ayasofya, the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, and Topkapi Palace. There are also many restaurants and cafes here, and it is a great place to have a seat on one of the many benches along the sprawling central square and do some people watching. Any visitor to Istanbul must make a trip to Sultanahmet at least once!!!
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