HIPPODROME

ISTANBUL AT MEYDANI

At one’s first glance, two things are particularly remarkable in the Ottomans’ ancient monuments: the site’s choice and the perfect unity of the whole. Whether or not it is in a raised place, the site always has a view of vast open spaces, and however far one may look, one may see the sky. The structure as a whole is broad and imposing.

However, all details of the monument, charged with multiple ornaments it may be, simultaneously contribute to a general effect that is always simple and always unique. In 324 AD, Emperor Constantine moved the seats from Rome to Byzantium. He renamed the city Nova Roma (the New Rome), but the public said the city of Constantine as ” CONSTANTINOPOLIS,” ordered to built Hippodrome, which means Hippos; horse, Drome; Square, with 456 meters long and 128 meters wide.

It is ”U” shaped, with 100.000 spectators capacity and Kathisma ( the Empire’s lodge). Decorated with Egyptian Obelisk, commissioned by the Pharaoh Thutmose III 15C BC in the name of his campaigns in Syria and his crossing of the Euphrates River. As can be seen, the top of Obelisk, 20 m, has been broken off and originally 30 m and 800 tons. Probably, it was brought to Istanbul by Constantine the Great, but it could not be raised and lay for some years in the harbor. Finally, it was erected by Theodosius in 390, in its present spot. The Obelisk is standing on a marble block with some reliefs, representing the royal family watching the races in the Hippodrome, receiving homage from his enemies, honoring the winner of the races, and assisting the erection of the Obelisk.

The Serpent Column; the intertwined three bronze serpents which form the column were the base of a trophy that once stood in the Temple of Apollo in Greece. It was dedicated to Apollo from the Greeks, who defeated the Persian army in the battle of Plataea in 479 BC. According to tradition, they cast the column from the shields of the Persian soldiers. The name of the 31 Greek cities is carved on the coils of the column at the bottom. Constantine brought the Serpent Column from Delphi.

The first place of the column in Hagia Sophia’s courtyard then has been moved to the Hippodrome. The upper part of ( heads) the column is missing; just a piece of the head is displayed in Istanbul Archaeology Museum.

Even though Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus in 10C AD totally renovated the column of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, the column is dating earlier period, perhaps to Theodosius or Constantine the Great. The column is the tallest Roman pillar, existing which is 32 m in Istanbul today.

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