Hippodrome was the center of life in Byzantium and Ottoman. During the Byzantine era, it was an arena where the chariot teams competed.
It was not an arena where gladiators fought like in Rome. It was mostly used for entertaining show.
During the Ottoman period, sultans followed the activities in the Hippodrome. If things went bad in the empire, the people gathered here could signal the beginning of an ailment, then a revolt.
The priceless sculptures of the Hippodrome were looted by the soldiers of the Fourth Crusade, which invaded Constantinople in 1204. Today, many are in museums in Italy.
The Hippodrome has a German Fountain with beautiful stonework. German emperor Kaiser Wilhelm presented this fountain to the Ottoman sultan and his people in 1901 for friendship purposes.
The beautifully preserved pink granite Theodosius Obelisk in the middle of the hippodrome was carved in Egypt during the period of Thutmose III (1549-1503 BC) and planted in the temple of Amon-Re in Karnak. Great Theodosius (379-95) brought it from Egypt to Constantinople in 390 AD. On the marble podium under the obelisk, there is a statue of Theodosius’s bodyguards who watch the wives, sons, government officials and warriors.
Near the obelisk are the head pillars of three snakes, known as Spiral Columns that come out of a hole in the ground. It was once much longer. Despite being damaged in the Byzantine period, the snakes’ heads were in place until the beginning of the 18th century. The only thing left today is an upper jaw in the Istanbul Archeology Museum.
Hippodrome square has not left much to date as a historical monument. But it is still one of the most popular sightseeing places in Istanbul. It is a place where local and foreign tourists come. When you get tired by traveling, you can relax in the cafes nearby. Cars and other vehicles cannot enter the hippodrome and its surroundings, it is only a walking area for people.