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HIPPODROME - SULTANAHMET
The hippodrome was
an immense construction 480 meters length and 117.5 meters wide; it
could seat, according to estimations one hundred thousand spectators.
It was build in 203 by the Emperor Septimus Severus and later on
Constantine the Great extended and remodeled it.
As Haghia Sophia was the
center of religious life, the hippodrome was the center of the civil
activities. The interests and passions of the population was divided
between theological controversy and chariots races on the hippodrome.
Today you can only see
some monuments where the hippodrome was. If you are curios and want to
see how was the old Constantinople city center click here ! The
central line, or spina of the hippodrome was marked by obelisks and
columns, three of which are still outstanding monuments at Sultan
Ahmet square (see picture bellow: the red line is where the hippodrome
was located, behind it you can see the Blue Mosque and Saint Sophia).
The first monument is the
Egyptian obelisk (first on the left from the picture above). It was
originally commissioned by the pharaoh Thutmose III (1549-1503 B.C.)
who erected it at Deir el Bahri opposite Thebes in upper Egypt to
commemorate one of his campaigns in Syria and his crossing of the
Euphrates river. It was erected on its present site by Theodosius the
Great in 390 A.C. and at the bottom of it there is a marble stone with
some sculptured relieves regarding Theodosius.
The second monument is
the Serpent column. The three bronze serpents were the base of a
trophy that once stood at the temple of Apollo at Delphi. It was
dedicated to Apollo as a token of gratitude by the 31 Greek cities
which defeated in the Persian battle Plataea (479 B.C.). The column
was probably brought from Delphi by Constantine the Great.
The third monument is a
roughly build pillar of stone 32 meters high dated around the 4th
century. It is know that the monument was formerly reverted with
gilded bronze plaques. In 1204, during the latin invasion, these
plaques were removed, melted down and minted.
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