The remnants of the Hippodrome from the Byzantine Era can still be found between the Sultanahmet Mosque and the Ibrahim Paşa Palace. In the Byzantine Era, the Hippodrome was immense. Construction started in 196, and was finished in 337, during Constantine’s reign. The park between the Sultanahmet Mosque and the Aya Sofia used to belong to the Hippodrome.
Significant consturctions and monuments of Byzantine Period which remained as a very little ruins from past to today was constructed around the hippodrome. Hammams, sanctuaries, religious, cultural, executive and social centers settled in around hippodrome. Hippodrome maintained its importance as a center of meeting, entertainment, excitement and sport until 10 century in the period of Roman and Byzantine Empire. Besides car racing, other things were made here such as community of musicians, show of dancer and acrobats, fighting shows with wild animals, and meetings. There were abundant holiday for these activities in Roman period. A famous racer had all kinds of financial possibility. Hippodrome came until today with three monuments which was raised 4-5 meters ground.
Capacity of the Hippodrome 100,000 people
The seats were made of wood. Behind the dark windows on the bottom floors used to be wild animals locked up in cells. On the Hippodrome are two bronze statues that deserve to be considered masterpieces, and which are the result of very fine labor.
In its most splendid days, the Hippodrome had a capacity of 100,000 people. As the cart races gained importance, the Hippodrome’s importance also increased. The race track started at the Aya Sofia, made a turn at the Marmara University Rector Building back towards the Aya Sofia. Usually, seven laps were made. The most successful participants were national heroes.
Hippodrome in Ottoman Period
Racecourse comes to mean the place of horse riders and square of horses. It was called as a hippodrome (horse square) in Ottoman Period. Janissary revolts occured here in Ottoman Period. Circumcision feast of sultan’s son which continued 40 days 40 nights and festivals were organized in hippodrome.