Located just in from of the Blue Mosque is the ancient "Hippodrome", one of the most famous areas in Byzantine Constantinople, which served as a meeting place for the politicians, for chariot races and other athletic activities. The Hippodrome was built originally by the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus in 203 A.D. when he rebuilt the town of Byzantium, but was Constantine the Great who gave more importance to the Hippodrome and ordered to renovate it. It is estimated that the Hippodrome of Constantine was about 450 metres long and 130 metres wide with a capacity to hold 100,000 spectators.
During the Ottoman reign the Hippodrome was used with the same purpose as Byzantine times. Today it is a city park named At Meydani (Horse Grounds) and features three monuments that are worth to visit.
Obelisk of Theodosius
It is an Egyptian obelisk erected by Pharaoh Tutmosis III (1549-1503 BC). The Obelisk is made of pink granite and its height is 17 metres. Originally it was 27 meters height and 10 meters higher than it is today and weighed 800 tons.
The obelisk features hieroglyphic inscriptions describing the victory of the pharaoh and a sacrifice to the god of the sun Amon-Ra.
The Obelisk was brought to Constantinopolis in 390 A.D by Emperor Theodosius I and stood over a rectangular stone base on four bronze feet.
Constantine Column or the Walled Obelisk
The Constantine column was erected in the 4th century and repaired by Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus in the 10th century. The column is located at the end of the Hippodrome.
This monument was completely covered with bronze plates, but during the Latin invasion in 1204 by the Fourth Crusade these plates where stripped.
The Serpentine Column is one of the most ancient monuments in Istanbul. It was a donation to the temple of Apollo at Delphi by 31 Greek city states for its victory over the Persians in the battle of Platte, during the medic wars.
The column was brought to Istanbul by Constantine the Great from the temple of Apollo in 234 AD. Originally, the column was 8 meters high and the column was in the form of three serpents' heads with the gold cauldron supported on their heads. Only two of these heads have been found with one in the Istanbul Archeological Museum, the other one in the British Museum.
Built in 1898 was a gift from the Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II to the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamit when he visited Istanbul. The fountain decorated with golden mosaics is located in front of the Blue Mosque.
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