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!!!
Sultan Ahmet I, who reigned as Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1603 until his death in 1617, has left his name on several famous landmarks within Istanbul. The Sultan Ahmet Mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque, was commissioned by him in 1609. The entire area surrounding the Blue Mosque and Ayasofya, also the former location of the Byzantine city of Constantinople, is named in his honor. The tomb of Sultan Ahmet I, which is actually a mausoleum containing 35 family members of the Sultan, along with the Sultan himself, was built by his son, Sultan Osman II. The structure is adorned with a single dome, as well as beautiful Iznik tiles on it's interior. Entrance is free, but donations are accepted, and you must remove your shoes before entering.
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.
The Yilanli Column is found in Sultanahmet Square. After the victory of the Greeks against the Persians, the Temple of Apollo was erected in 479 B.C. It was built of metal obtained from weapons confiscated during the war and melted down. Later, in the reign of Constantine I (324-327 A.D.), it was brought to Istanbul. It has the shape of entwined serpents, whose heads look out in three different directions. The names of the 31 Greek city-states that participated in the war are etched upon the snakes.The column was originally 8 meters high, but is only 5.30 meters high today and the heads of the serpents are missing. The three intertwined bronze serpents form the column.
The third monument in this area is called as "Colossus" or "the column of Constantine Porphyrgenitus". This column looks much more eroded and the purpose is thought to have a parallelism with the Egyptian Obelisk.
My definitly favorit Part of Istanbul !! I already knew it when i was looking on line for a hotel and i saw lots of stuff about this neighborhood, it immediately touched me. Once i arrived Istanbul and arrived my hotel i knew i made a right decision. I was really happy there.
The area is simply beautiful, its quiet, it has beautiful beautiful small houses and small
The buildings are painted with different colors, the roads are small and nerrow, made of small stones (not sure what is the English term for this roads, we call them dutch roads).
There are small bars, restaurants, shops, cafe's etc'... but its really quiet. When i opened my window in the morning i could feel the area waking up, here and there people walk around and there was just something there, im not sure i can put it into words, it was just that feeling there..
Another advantage in Sultan Ahmet area is the distance from most attractions. Its so close to everything, just 200 meters from Aya sofia, probably less then that to the blue mosque, the grand bazar, and a tram or taxi to Taxim and Istiklal.
One point that must be mentioned is the mosques, there are prayers few times a day which are heared all over the area. I think that was the main thing that kept me doubting whether to book a room at this area, growing up in Israel i knew how it sounds and as a none religiouse person i dont like hearing any kind of prayers, definitely not the muazin at 05:00am.
However very surprisingly i must admit that i hardly heard it, either i slept so strong or was out of that area during the day or i just got used to it so quickly.
So in a nutshell, i trully recommend staying at Sultan Ahmet. In some ways its to feel something of the real Istanbul. And thats part of a trip, trying to learn and feel the place you're going to.
This is the heart of Istanbul. I strongly advise you to stay in this area, as there is plenty of nice hotels and accomodation for all budgets.
This is an old and lovely area, full of charm and character. Most sights are located here, the mosques, the Grand Bazaar and there are many small restaurants and cafes, all very clean and nice. You won't need any transportation here. It's very easy and fun to walk the narrow streets and you can always discover something new is this colourful neighboorhood. There are always many tourists, it's true, but Istanbul is like that.
Just walk around Sultanahmet and get the essence of Istanbul, its sights, colours and smells. Enjoy it!
Visiting the Sultanahmet area, you'll have the happiness of enjoying the beauty of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophya, Topkapi Palace, the Palace Cistern and just the parks.
I liked this area most of all because it had the unique "flovor" of middle ages with its terrific architecture, cobblestone roads, green parks, flowers and fountains, cafes with whirling dervishes, solorful shops and even the sellers of food at every corner. This is the place where one can feel the romantism of middle ages, get away from the speed of the everyday lifestyle and have a real rest.
There are also many good hotels in Sultanahmet, like Kalyon where I stayed, Armada etc.
In addition to all this, the sea beside the area ensures fresh and mild air.
Spending hours in palaces and museums can be tough for the kids (though difficult to avoid in a city with so many excellent monuments). Why not reward them with rides on the trams and ferries.
Sultan Ahmet has a good tram service that will get you around many of the sites plus the train station and the ferry terminal. The ferries ply the Bosporus in all directions. You don't need to pay for a tour. For a short trip, hop across to Uskudar on the Asian shore. For kids who LOVE boat trips, venture all the way up to Anadolu Kavagi (there's a Genoese fortress to see) or further into the Black Sea.
The area called sultanahmet is in the middle of the old city and you will find there many attractions : the hippodrom with the 3 obelisks , the blue mosque , aya sofia , topkapi and many more.
A lot of old buildings and beautiful architecture , ancient history.
Every architect must see Sultanahmed Mosque...
Stroll around, visit and discover each neighborhood of Sultanahmet; places of interest, guides, museums, private mansions, public gardens, shops, open foodmarkets, walks, theatres, discotheques, etc...
Sultan Ahmet is the old town of Istanbul accommodating the prime tourist sites like Blue Mosques, Aya Sofia and Topkapi Palace. The entry into Blue mosque is free but you are expected to donate a small amount on the way out.. Volunteers help out giving you polibag to wrap your shoes and separate pair of shoes to put on to enter inside the mosque.