Hippodrome Square

The square in front of the Blue Mosque covers the site of the ancient "Hippodrome", one of the most famous areas in Byzantine Constantinople.

The original Hippodrome was constructed in 200 AD. by Emperor Septimus Severus, when he rebuilt the town of Byzantium. After Severus, Constantine the Great made Constantinople new capital and gave much more importance to this area. The Hippodrome was the heart of the civil activities. Propaganda activities, rebellions, fightings and eventually chariot races took place in this area. The Hippodrome continued to serve as primarily a sports center as well as a gathering place of the people for centuries during the Byzantium Era. After the Ottomans took over, it was also used for the same purpose.

 There are various monuments in Hippodrome Area. The most attractive one is the "Egyptian Obelisk". This building was originally constructed by Pharaoh Tutmosis III(1549-1503 BC). It was 60 m. (180 feet) high and weighed 800 tons. When shipped from Egypt to Constantinople, it was split into three and only the very top of it survived. It was erected to Constantinople during the reign of Theodosius I in 390. There is a marble base with sculptured reliefs representing the Emperor's watching of chariot races with his family. The obelisk is made of pink granit and it depicts Praraoh Tutmosis III with Sun God Amon Ra.

Another building in Hippodrome Area is so-called "Serpentine Column". The three intertwined bronze serpents form the column. This column was brought from the Temple of Apollo, Delphi Greece dedicated to God by the 31 Greek cities who defeated the Persians at Platea in 479 BC. It was brought by Emperor Constantine the Great.

The third monument in this area is called as "Colossus" or "the column of Constantine Porphyrgenitus". This column looks much more eroded and the purpose is thought to have a parallelism with the Egyptian Obelisk.

The last monument in Hippodrome Area is the "German Fountain" or "Fountain of Kaiser Wilhelm II". It is an octagonal building with water taps around which was constructed in 1898. Inside the fountain, there are lovely mosaics which depicts the signatures of Wilhelm II and Sultan Abdulhamit II, the sultan of that time. This fountain was to commemorate the alliance of German Empire and Ottoman Empire against the allied powers of Russia, Great Britain,France and Japan before the World War I. The Germans took great advantages and privileges from Ottoman Empire with a lot of promises but at the end of World War I, they were both defeated by the allied powers.