HIPPODROME SQUARE, ISTANBUL
The Hippodrome Square of Istanbul was a circus that was the sporting and social center of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
Today, it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydani with a few fragments of the original structure surviving. The word itself comes from the horse and chariot racing which was popular in the ancient world and hippodromes were common features of Greek cities in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras.
The first Hippodrome was built when the city was called Byzantium and was a provincial town of moderate importance. In AD 203, the Emperor Septimius Severus rebuilt the city and expanded its walls, endowing it with a hippodrome, an arena for chariot races and other entertainment.
The monuments are Serpent Column, Obelisk of Thutmose III and Walled Obelisk Statues of Porphyrios. Remains from the curved-end section of the Hippodrome's wall can be seen on the southwest side of these three monuments.
Today, the square forms the center of Istanbul's historical, cultural and tourism activities. You should take particular note of the surrounding wooden houses, particularly the 18th-century ones on Sogukcesme Street. Delightfully restored, they have new life as small hotels and one house a fascinating library of books on Istanbul.
Entrance fee is not required for these visits.