THE OBELISQUE (Hippodrome)

It is not only the Hippodrome’s, but also Istanbul’s oldest monument. It is dated as 15th century BC; that is to say, this obelisk is 3500 years old. The Pharaoh made it built fort he memory of his victory. There are similar ones in Egypt and in many other big cities of Europe. In 390 BC, the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I brought it from Amon Temple of Karnak in the Luxor region in Egypt and it was erected in its present place of today.

Although in every 100 years average 6.5 scale earthquakes hit the city of İstanbul, it has been standing here for the past 1600 years without getting any damage. It is made from pink granite and its weight is about 300 tons. Although the original was 32.5 M high, 40% of the bottom was cut off for transportation. It is 20 M high today. On each four faces of the Obelisk, there are Egyptian Hieroglyphics that tells about the bravery of Pharaoh Tuthmose. At the top, God Amon and the pharaoh were pictured hand in hand.

The hawk name Horus below symbolizes the beginning of the text. Some human figures were destroyed, and also some letters below were cut from the center. The reason why the bottom of the obelisk is not flat is because there are 4 bronze feet under it. It is known that water games were held in the water canals attached to the feet. And at the very bottom, there is a marble base constructed in 389. on every four faces of this base, there are scenes from the activities, taken place in the Hippodrome.

Many reliefs such as the Emperor’s lodge, erecting the Obelisk, dancing before the races, horse races, Emperor receiving gifts were carved on the marble base.

Adjacent to the Basilica Cistern, Between Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. This was the center of Roman and Byzantine Constantinople, and is a great place to begin one’s tour and to watch people. The building no longer stands, but the obelisks and sculptures that have been collected here since Theodosius’ time in the fourth century remain. The four bronze horses in the facade of St. Marco in Venice used to be on top of the Emperor’s box in the Hippodrome and they were looted by the crusaders in 1204. While you are on your way to the hippodrome, don’t forget the German Fountain (Alman Çeşmesi), a neo-Byzantine style fountain building at the square leading to Hippodrome. It was a gift sent by German Kaiser Wilhelm II to the Ottoman Sultan.

Sultanahmet (by tram: Sultanahmet Station)

700 meters away walking from our hotel

Hagia Irene (Aya İrini)

On the grounds of Topkapı Palace, Hagia Irene, which you will notice to your left after entering the outer yard of Topkapı Palace, is one of few Byzantine-era cathedrals which was never converted to a mosque (though not used for religious purposes either during the Ottoman period). Hagia Irene is open to the public, admission 20TL or with the Museum Pass. There are no audio guides or information signs within the building.

600 meters away from our hotel.