Hippodrome

The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydanı (Sultan Ahmet Square) in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with only a few fragments of the original structure surviving. It is sometimes also called Atmeydanı (Horse Square) in Turkish. It is estimated that the Hippodrome was about 450 m (1,476 ft) long and 130 m (427 ft) wide. Its stands were capable of holding 100,000 spectators.

Four stautes of horses gilded in copper stood at the northern end of the track. These four gilded horses, now called the Horses of Saint Mark, were looted during the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and installed on the fašade of St Mark's Basilica in Venice.

Today, the most impressive aspect of the Hippodrome is the Obelisk of Thutmose III. In 390, Theodosius the Great brought the obelisk from Egypt and erected it inside the racing track. Carved from pink granite, it was originally erected at the Temple of Karnak in Luxor during the reign of Tuthmosis III in about 1490 BC. Theodosius had the obelisk cut into three pieces and brought to Constantinople. Only the top section survives, and it stands today where Theodosius placed it, on a marble pedestal. The obelisk has survived nearly 3,500 years in astonishingly good condition.

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