During the Byzantine and Ottoman years, a visit to the Hippodrome meant going to an arena and stadium, in which you can safely watch the rivalry of the empire’s most skilful athletes. This is not so now, as little of the Hipodrome is left.Today, where it used to be is a large park dotted here and there with the remnants of several civilizations: an Egyptian obelisk made of pink granite inscribed with hieroglyphs; the Constantine Column, which used to be completely covered with bronze plates; a spiral column from Delphi that originally formed into a three headed serpent, and the German Fountain, a gift by Emperor Kaiser to Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamit when the German monarch visited Istanbul in 1898.
Built by the Romans around 200AD, the Hippodrome was originally used as a stadium and meeting place for politicians, chariot-racing, boxing, wrestling, and other public events. For over a thousand years it was the center of Roman and Byzantine Constantinople; and over 400 of the Ottoman Empire. Over 100,000 could watch the events unfolding in the 400-meter long and 120-meter wide arena. Built primarily for sporting events, not all that took place here were sporting; in 532, a chariot race ignited the bloodiest riot in the city—most of the city was burned and about 30,000 trapped in the Hippodrome were massacred by Justinian mercenaries.
How to get there
By tram: Gülhane/Sultanahmet