The Hippodrome of Constantinople (Turkish: Sultanahmet Meydanı, At Meydanı) was a horse-racing track that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire and the largest city in Europe. A laurel wreath is a circular Wreath made of interlocking branches and leaves of the Bay Laurel ( Laurus nobilis Lauraceae) an aromatic Turkish ( tr Türkçe IPA) is a language spoken by over 63 million people worldwide making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. A race track (or 'racetrack' or 'racing track' is a purpose-built facility for Racing of animals (eg Constantinople (Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoúpolis, or gr ἡ Πόλις hē Polis, Latin: la CONSTANTINOPOLIS Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydanı (Sultan Ahmet Square) in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with only a few fragments of the original structure surviving. Turkey (Türkiye known officially as the Republic of Turkey ( is a Eurasian Country that stretches Istanbul (historically Byzantium and later Constantinople; see the other Names of Istanbul) is the largest city of Turkey It is sometimes also called Atmeydanı (Horse Square) in Turkish.
The word hippodrome comes from the Greek hippos ('ιππος), horse, and dromos (δρομος), path or way. A Hippodrome (Gr from hippos, horse and dromos, race course was a course provided by the Greeks for Horse racing and Chariot racing Horse racing and chariot racing were popular pastimes in the ancient world and hippodromes were common features of Greek cities in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras. This article is about the sport For other uses see Horserace (drinking game or Horse race (politics. Chariot racing (ἁρματοδρομία/armatodromia was one of the most popular ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine Sports Chariot This article focuses on the cultural aspects of the Hellenistic age for the historical aspects see Hellenistic period. Ancient Rome was a Civilization that grew out of a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 10th century BC
Although the Hippodrome is usually associated with Constantinople's days of glory as an imperial capital, it actually predates that era. The first Hippodrome was built when the city was called Byzantium (Βυζαντιον, or Byzantion in Greek), and was a provincial town of moderate importance. This article is about the city See also Byzantine Empire. Byzantium ( Greek: Βυζάντιον Latin: la BYZANTIVM In 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. Lucius Septimius Severus (or rarely Severus I) ( April 11 145 - February 4 211) was a Roman general and Roman Emperor See also List of cities with defensive walls A defensive wall is a Fortification used to defend a city or settlement from potential aggressors
In 324, the Emperor Constantine the Great decided to move the seat of the government from Rome to Byzantium, which he renamed Nova Roma (New Rome). Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus (27 February ca. 272 &ndash 22 May 337 commonly known as Constantine I, Constantine the Great, or Saint Constantine Rome ( Roma ˈroma Roma is the capital city of Italy and Lazio, and is Italy's largest and most populous city with more than 2 The term " New Rome " has been used in the following contexts This name failed to impress and the city soon became known as Constantinople, the City of Constantine. Constantine greatly enlarged the city, and one of his major undertakings was the renovation of the Hippodrome. It is estimated that the Hippodrome of Constantine was about 450 metres long and 130 metres wide. Its stands were capable of holding 100,000 spectators.
The race-track at the Hippodrome was U-shaped, and the Kathisma (emperor's loge) was located at the eastern end of the track. A Kathisma (Greek καθισμα Slavonic каѳисма kafisma) literally "seat" is a division of the Psalter, used by Eastern Orthodox The Kathisma could be accessed directly from the Great Palace through a passage which only the emperor or other members of the imperial family could use. The Byzantine Great Palace of Constantinople, (Μέγα Παλάτιον Turkish: Büyük Saray also known as the Sacred Palace ( Latin The Hippodrome Boxes, which had four statues of horses in gilded copper on top, stood at the northern end; and the Sphendone (curved tribune of the U-shaped structure, the lower part of which still survives) stood at the southern end. These four gilded horses, now called the Horses of Saint Mark, whose exact Greek or Roman ancestry has never been determined, were looted during the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and installed on the façade of St Mark's Basilica in Venice. The Triumphal Quadriga or Horses of Saint Mark is a set of Roman or Greek Bronze statues of four Horses originally Greece (Ελλάδα transliterated: Elláda, historically, Ellás,) officially the Hellenic Republic (Ελληνική Δημοκρατία Ancient Rome was a Civilization that grew out of a small agricultural community founded on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 10th century BC The Fourth Crusade (1202&ndash1204 was originally designed to conquer Muslim Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt. Saint Mark's Basilica ( Italian: Basilica di San Marco a Venezia) the Cathedral of Venice, is the most famous of Venice ( Italian: Venezia, Venetian: Venesia or Venexia) is a city in Northern Italy, the capital of the The track was lined with other bronze statues of famous horses and chariot drivers, none of which survive. The hippodrome was filled with statues of gods, emperors and heroes, among them some famous works, such as a Heracles by Lysippos, Romulus and Remus with their wolf and the Serpent Column of the Plataean tripod. In Greek mythology, Heracles or Herakles ("glory of Hera " or Lysippos (Λύσιππος was a Greek sculptor of the 4th century BC. Romulus (c 771 BC– c 717 BC and Remus (c 771 BC–c 753 BC are the traditional founders of Rome, appearing in Roman mythology Romulus (c 771 BC– c 717 BC and Remus (c 771 BC–c 753 BC are the traditional founders of Rome, appearing in Roman mythology Serpent Column (also known as the Serpentine Column, Delphi Tripod or the Plataean Tripod) is an ancient column at the Hippodrome (known as A sacrificial tripod was a type of Altar used by the ancient Greeks  In his book De Ceremoniis (book II,15, 589), the emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus described the decorations in the hippodrome at the occasion of the visit of Saracen or Arab visitors, mentioning the purple hangings and rare tapestries. De Ceremoniis (full title De caerimoniis aulae Byzantinae, also spelled caeremoniis, cerimoniis) is the Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos or Porphyrogenitus, "the Purple-born" ( Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Ζ΄ Πορφυρογέννητος Saracen was a term used by Europeans in the Middle Ages for Fatimids at first then later for all who professed the religion of Islam. 
Throughout the Byzantine period, the Hippodrome was the centre of the city's social life. Huge amounts were bet on chariot races, and initially four teams took part in these races, each one financially sponsored and supported by a different political party (Deme) within the Roman/Byzantine Senate: The Blues (Venetii), the Greens (Prasinoi), the Reds (Rousioi) and the Whites (Leukoi). The Reds (Rousioi) and the Whites (Leukoi) gradually weakened and were absorbed by the other two major factions (the Blues and Greens).
A total of up to eight chariots (two chariots per team), powered by four horses each, competed on the racing track of the Hippodrome. These races were not simple sporting events, but also provided some of the rare occasions in which the Emperor and the common citizens could come together in a single venue. Political discussions were often made at the Hippodrome, which could be directly accessed by the Emperor through a passage that connected the Kathisma (Emperor's Loge at the eastern tribune) with the Great Palace of Constantinople. The Byzantine Great Palace of Constantinople, (Μέγα Παλάτιον Turkish: Büyük Saray also known as the Sacred Palace ( Latin
The rivalry between the Blues and Greens often became mingled with political or religious rivalries, and sometimes riots, which amounted to civil wars that broke out in the city between them. The most severe of these was the Nika Revolt of 532, in which an estimated 30,000 people were killed and many important buildings, such as the second Hagia Sophia Church, were destroyed. The Nika riots (Στάση του Νίκα or Nika revolt, took place over the course of a week in Constantinople in 532. Events By Place Byzantine Empire January 11 — Nika riots in Constantinople: The cathedral is destroyed The current (third) Hagia Sophia was built by Justinian following the Nika Revolt. Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya Αγία Σοφία " Holy Wisdom " Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia) is a former patriarchal Basilica, later Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus ( Greek: Φλάβιος Πέτρος Σαββάτιος Ιουστινιανός; known in English as Justinian I or
Constantinople never really recovered from its sack during the Fourth Crusade and even though the Byzantine Empire survived until 1453, by that time, the Hippodrome had fallen into ruin. The Fourth Crusade (1202&ndash1204 was originally designed to conquer Muslim Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt. The Ottoman Turks, who captured the city in 1453 and made it the capital of the Ottoman Empire, were not interested in racing and the Hippodrome was gradually forgotten, although the site was never actually built over. The Ottoman Empire (1299–1923 ( Old Ottoman Turkish: دولتْ علیّه عثمانیّه Devlet-i Âliye-yi Osmâniyye, Late Ottoman and Modern Turkish
The Hippodrome was used for various occasions such as the lavish and days-long circumcision ceremony of the sons of Sultan Ahmed III. Male circumcision is the removal of some or all of the Foreskin (prepuce from the Penis. Ahmed III ( Ottoman Turkish: احمد ثالث Aḥmed-i sālis) ( December 30, 1673 &mdash July In Ottoman miniature paintings, the Hippodrome is shown with the seats and monuments still intact. Although the structures do not exist anymore, today's Sultanahmet Square largely follows the ground plan and dimensions of the now vanished Hippodrome.
To raise the image of his new capital, Constantine and his successors, especially Theodosius the Great, brought works of art from all over the empire to adorn it. Flavius Theodosius (January 11 347 – January 17 395 also called Theodosius I and Theodosius the Great ( Greek: Θεοδόσιος Α΄ The monuments were set up in the middle of the Hippodrome, the spina. Among these was the Tripod of Plataea, now known as the Serpent Column, cast to celebrate the victory of the Greeks over the Persians during the Persian Wars in the 5th century BC. A sacrificial tripod was a type of Altar used by the ancient Greeks For the Geometer moth Genus, see Plataea (moth. Plataea or Plataeae was an ancient city located in Greece Serpent Column (also known as the Serpentine Column, Delphi Tripod or the Plataean Tripod) is an ancient column at the Hippodrome (known as The Battle of Plataea was the final major Battle of the Greco-Persian Wars in southern Greece. Constantine ordered the Tripod to be moved from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and set in middle of the Hippodrome. Delphi ( Greek,) ( pronounce and dialectal forms) is an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western The top was adorned with a golden bowl supported by three serpent heads. The bowl was destroyed or stolen during the Fourth Crusade. The serpent heads were destroyed as late as the end of the 17th Century, as many Ottoman miniatures show they were intact in the early centuries following the Turkish conquest of the city.  Parts of the heads were recovered and are displayed at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. All that remains of the Delphi Tripod today is the base, known as the "Serpentine Column".
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. Flavius Theodosius (January 11 347 – January 17 395 also called Theodosius I and Theodosius the Great ( Greek: Θεοδόσιος Α΄ An obelisk (from Greek ὀβελίσκος - obeliskos, diminutive of ὀβελός - obelos, "spit nail pointed pillar" This article is about the country of Egypt For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Egypt topics. 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. The Karnak temple complex, universally known only as Karnak, describes a vast conglomeration of ruined temples chapels pylons and other buildings Luxor (in Arabic: الأقصر al-Uqṣur) is a city in Upper (southern Egypt and the capital of Luxor Thutmose III (sometimes read as Thutmosis or Tuthmosis III and meaning Thoth is Born) was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth 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.
In the 10th century the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus built another obelisk at the other end of the Hippodrome. Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos or Porphyrogenitus, "the Purple-born" ( Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Ζ΄ Πορφυρογέννητος 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. The Walled Obelisk (also known as Constantine Obelisk) is situated near Serpentine Column at the southern side of the Hippodrome of Constantinople (now
Seven statues were erected on the Spina of the Hippodrome in honour of Porphyrios, a legendary charioteer in his time who raced for the two parties which were called "Greens" and "Blues". None of these statues have survived. Only the bases of two of them have survived and are displayed in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.
Today the area is officially called Sultan Ahmet Square, and is carefully maintained by the Turkish authorities. The course of the old racetrack has been indicated with paving, although the actual track is some two metres below the present surface. The surviving monuments of the Spina (the middle barrier of the racecourse), the two obelisks and the Serpentine Column, now sit in holes in a landscaped garden.
The German Fountain ("The Kaiser Wilhelm Fountain"), an octagonal domed fountain in neo-byzantine style, which was constructed by the German government in 1900 to mark the German Emperor Wilhelm II's visit to Istanbul in 1898, is located at the northern entrance to the Hippodrome area, right in front of the Blue Mosque. The German Fountain ( Alman Çeşmesi) is a Gazebo styled fountain in the northern end of old hippodrome (Sultanahmet Square Istanbul, Neo-Byzantine architecture is an architectural revival style, most frequently seen in religious institutional and public Buildings It emerged in 1840s in Western
The Hippodrome has never been systematically excavated by archaeologists. A portion of the substructures of the Sphendone (the curved end) became more visible in the 1980s with the clearing of houses in the area.
In 1993 an area in front of the nearby Sultanahmet Mosque (the Blue Mosque) was bulldozed in order to install a public toilet, uncovering several rows of seats and some columns from the Hippodrome. Investigation did not continue further, but the seats and columns were removed and can now be seen in Istanbul's museums. It is possible that much more of the Hippodrome's remains still lie beneath the parkland of Sultanahmet.
Base of the statues of Porphyrios, kept in the Istanbul Museum
The four bronze horses that used to be in the Hippodrome, today in Venice
The remains of the Sphendone
The neo-byzantine German Fountain