of Constantinople History
of Constantinople, loated in Turkey
was a circus hosting the sporting
and social events of Constantinople,
which is the capital city of the Byzantine
Empire. Today it is a square called
Sultanahmet Meydan (Sultan Ahmet Square)
based in Istanbul: Today only sections
of the orignal structure exists.
It is often
referred to as the "Horse Square"
in Turkish. The word hippodrome comes
from the Greek word "hippos"
for horse, and "dromos",
meaning a pathway.
and chariot racing were of course
popular leisure pastimes in the ancient
world and hippodromes were common
features of Greek cities in the Hellenistic,
Roman and Byzantine eras.
of Constantinople Today
In recent times
, the area is called Sultan Ahmet
Square, and is carefully maintained
by the Turkish authorities.
The course of
the old racetrack has been replaced
with paving but the actual track is
some 2 m (6.6 ft) below the present
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.
was excavated by the late Director
of the Istanbul Archeological Museums,
archeologist Rüstem Duyuran in 1950
and 1951.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 called the Blue Mosque was
bulldozed in order to install a public
building, 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. The Hippodrome was
depicted on the reverse of the Turkish
500 lira banknotes of 1953-1976.