Hippodrome (At Meydani) (Istanbul)

 Hippodrome (At Meydani) (Istanbul)  

Hippodrome is a massive stadium constructed in the centre of Constantinople for chariot races. It was constructed in the 3rd century AD by ancient Roman Emperor Septimus Severus during his reconstruction of the city. Emperor Constantine continued with expansion of Hippodrome and linked Grand Palace or Royal residence to kathisma or royal box.




Trolley: Sultanahmet


Hippodrome (At Meydani) (Istanbul)  Hippodrome (At Meydani) (Istanbul)

In the Byzantine times chariot races were an important part of lives of Byzantines of all social and economic standing. After Christianity was adopted as a state religion gladiator fights became illegal, but it doesn't mean that people's devotion to mass spectacle became less pronounced. There were four major teams of charioteers: the Reds, the Blues, the Greens and the Whites. Each team wore colors of its team and had a significant following among common citizens. The Blues and the Greens were particularly famous. In 532 a brawl among fan clubs of two chariot groups turned into a massive uprising that destroyed much of medieval Istanbul. Participants screamed "victory" or Nika and thus it became known as Nika rebellion. Byzantine general Belisarius put down Nika riots after massacring 30,000 citizens of Constantinople in Hippodrome.


Much of Hippodrome lies in ruins, but several parts of the medieval structure were preserved. It can give an idea about the size of the original stadium. One of the most prominent structures on Hippodrome was an Egyptian Obelisk that was erected in 1500 BC outside of Luxor in Egypt. Constantine the Great moved the obelisk to Constantinople to increase rating of the new capital. Another obelisk that stands here is of unknown origin and date. It is called the Column of Constantine Porphyrogenitus. During Turkish rules. Local young Janissaries (professional Turkish warriors) scaled the obelisk to show their strength and agility. Many died trying. There is also a column that is known as a Serpentine Column that was constructed in 479 BC in Delphi.

There was also a bronze statue of four horses, but these were removed from their location by the Crusaders from the Fourth Crusade of 1204. They were moved to Venice. Domed fountain in Hippodrome was erected in 1898 to commemorate the visit of a German Kaiser Wilhelm II.