The idea for the hippodrome originally came from Emperor Septimius Severus in 203. He came to Byzantium to defeat a rebellion in a Roman civil war, after which he raised the walls of the city, slaughtered most of the inhabitants, and presented a scene of chariot races and other entertainment.
But it was not until the arrival of Emperor Constantine the Great in 324 Racecourse obtained its final form. In addition to moving the seat of government from Rome to Byzantium, renaming the city over Nova Roma (New Rome) to Constantinople, one of his greatest achievements was the renovation and expansion of the existing racecourse.
The new U-shaped track was about 450 meters long and 130 meters wide, surrounded by a stadium with a capacity of about 100,000. Constantine emperor also connected box (kathisma) then close the Byzantine Great Palace through a passage that could only be used by the emperor and his family.
Political careers in a magnificent racecourse
At the north end of the race track, where the tourist office is now, were the Hippodrome boxes containing four statues of horses in gilded copper. The southern end was occupied by the Sphendone curve racecourse grandstand, of which the bottom still survives. As a result of several emperors who try to outdo each other, midfield (forked) was covered with numerous statues and beautiful columns.
Horse racing and gambling go together, and it was no different makes almost 2000 years. However, the big difference is that the four teams who initially participated in the chariot races were sponsored and supported by different political parties within the Roman / Byzantine Senate financially: the Blues (Venetii), Greens (Prasinoi), the reds (Rousioi) and whites (Leukoi).
The rivalry between the Blues and the Greens are often intertwined with political and / or religious disputes that sometimes led to riots and even civil wars. The most famous and serious was undoubtedly the 532 Nika revolt.
Fourth Crusade marks the decay and looting racetrack
When Constantinople was sacked during the Fourth Crusade, the racecourse was sacked by invaders. The four horses of copper from the Hippodrome Boxes, for example, were taken to San Marco in Venice. To make matters worse, the Ottomans were not at all interested in horse racing. The racecourse was forgotten, and although it has never been built over, fell into ruin. As civilization piled her long dust of ages, levels around the racecourse rose.
If there is nothing, why pay a visit Racecourse?
The now defunct racecourse is now a public garden elongated, with the road around it following the same course track racing cars. Moreover, there remains sufficient Racecourse to get an idea of what it was. Look location marked on the map with tourist attractions in the historic area of Istanbul
Egyptian obelisk (Thutmose III) at the Hippodrome in Istanbul, TurkeyEgyptian Obelisk
What is commonly known as the Egyptian obelisk (see picture), is actually a retired shaft of the temple of Karnak in Thebes (modern Luxor).
The obelisk was originally carved around 1500 BC to commemorate the great victories of Pharaoh Thutmose III. In a state of self-congratulatory mood, Emperor Theodosius had the obelisk moved to Constantinople in 390. This beautiful monument is likely that only a third of its original height. It sits on a marble base, carved with scenes of Theodosius and his family enjoying a day at the races.
Serpentine Column and Spiral
This strange column, originally called the Tripod of Plataea, seemsto be coming up out of a hole in the ground. The victory of the Greeks over the Persianswas commemorated in 480 BC. Constantine made the statuewas moved from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, andlocated in the center of the racecourse. The golden bowl on top, with the support of three-headed snakewas stolen and / or destroyed. A separate head survived and is on display in Istanbul Archaeology Museums.
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