Sultanahmet Square, Hippodrome
Sultanahmet Square is located on the historical peninsula of Istanbul and is one of the city's most important tourist areas. This square has many historical and tourist attractions, such as the Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet Mosque, and the Topkapi Palace.
In addition to its historical structures, Sultanahmet Square offers a vibrant atmosphere for tourists with its surrounding streets, restaurants, shops, and hotels. Moreover, important museums like the Archaeology Museums and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts in the vicinity also attract visitors. The square is also conveniently located near other tourist areas in Istanbul. Famous bazaars like the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar, situated nearby, offer appealing options for visitors who wish to go shopping. Sultanahmet Square holds significant historical and cultural importance in Istanbul. Visitors can experience important insights into history, architecture, and Istanbul's rich cultural heritage in this square.
Furthermore, Sultanahmet Square is home to three ancient obelisks. These obelisks, dating back to the Roman Empire era, carry historical significance. Firstly, Theodosius Obelisk is one of the most prominent obelisks in Sultanahmet Square. Originally made in Egypt during the 15th century BC by Pharaoh Thutmose III, this obelisk was later brought to Istanbul by Roman Emperor Theodosius II. The obelisk, made of granite and standing approximately 20 meters tall, features hieroglyphic inscriptions from Egypt. The second obelisk is known as the Obelisk of Theodosius. Commissioned by Byzantine Emperor Constantine I in the 10th century, this obelisk, although shorter than its original form, suffered damage over time. Made of white marble, the Obelisk of Theodosius stands approximately 25 meters tall and showcases Christian symbols and reliefs. The third obelisk is the Serpent Column, brought from the Temple of Apollo in ancient Delphi. Standing around 8 meters tall, the column depicts three intertwined snakes from their heads. The Serpent Column dates back to the 5th century BC and symbolizes the victory of ancient Greek cities over the Persian Empire. Two serpent heads are missing, while one is exhibited in the nearby Archaeology Museum (on the top floor).
These three obelisks highlight the historical richness of Sultanahmet Square and the legacy of the Roman Empire era. Visitors can explore the square to see these ancient artifacts and discover their historical significance. It is believed that the Romans placed the obelisks in the center of the Hippodrome to symbolize the power, victories, and imperial authority of the Roman Empire. The height and remarkable designs of the obelisks were meant to visually impact the atmosphere of the Hippodrome, emphasizing the emperors' triumphs and grandeur. At times, they may have also served as navigational aids. However, the most exciting assumption is that during the horse-drawn chariot races held in the Hippodrome, known as "Spina," the contestants would circle the central line, obstructing the spectators' visibility to increase the excitement of the race.
Apart from the chariot races that gave the Hippodrome its name, it was also where imperial celebrations, gladiator fights, religious ceremonies, and commercial activities occurred. Today, Sultanahmet Square hosts various events such as concerts, festivals, artistic and sports activities, and exhibitions.