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Hippodrome (At Meydani)

Originally built in the third century, the Hippodrome of Constantinople was the sporting and cultural center of the former Byzantine capital for over 1,000 years. With a U-shaped race track and two levels of spectator galleries, the Hippodrome likely held more than 100,000 people. While the Byzantine emperors (and later the Ottoman sultans) took great pride in the Hippodrome and devoted significant efforts to embellishing it, little remains of the original structure today.

Sultan Ahmet Square (Sultanahmet Meydani or At Meydani)now covers the former site of the Hippodrome and largely follows its ground plan and dimensions.  Pavement marks the course of the old race track and several interesting monuments remain as well.  You can’t miss the towering Obelisk of Theodosius, the oldest monument in all of Istanbul. Made of pink granite, it was originally erected at the Amun Re temple at Karnak in Egypt, but was brought to Istanbul by the Emperor Theodosius in the fourth century.  South of the Obelisk, you will find a spiral column that once formed part of a golden basin brought to the city by Constantine the Great from the temple of Apollo in Delphi. You can also see what is known as the Walled Obelisk – the stone core of a 10th century obelisk that was once covered with bronze plaques. At the base of the obelisks and column, you can see where the original ground level of the Hippodrome once stood, about 2.5 meters below ground.

Near the northern entrance to the square, you will find the Kaiser Wilhelm’s Fountain, a stone gazebo with a mosaic-tiled dome that was a gift from the Kaiser in 1901.

Practical Information

Located in the heart of Istanbul’s primary tourist district, Sultan Ahmet Square is bordered by Atmeydani Sokak and Atmeydani Caddesi. The northern entrance is across from one of the most famous sites in Istanbul – the Blue Mosque.  If you aren’t staying in the area, you can take the tram to the Sultanahmet stop from elsewhere in the city and from there, it is just a short walk to Sultan Ahmet Square.

Tours & Tickets

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Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar

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Visit six top Istanbul attractions in one day on a full-day sightseeing tour of the city! The action-packed day includes a comprehensive tour of the historical ...  Read more

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Private Tour: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour including Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace

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Take a hassle-free tour of Istanbul's most famous attractions with your own private guide to lead the way. You'll enjoy personalized attention on your private ...  Read more

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Istanbul Super Saver: City Sightseeing Tour plus Turkish Dinner and Show

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Experience the best of Istanbul on this unforgettable experience that combines two best-selling tours at a saving of 10%! Start with a full-day city ...  Read more

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Istanbul Small-Group Walking Tour: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Grand Bazaar

4.5 star rating: Recommended 19 Reviews

See all the top Istanbul attractions in one day on this small-group walking tour, led by an expert local guide. Focusing on the Sultanahmet area of this ...  Read more

Location: Istanbul, Turkey
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4-Day Istanbul City Stay Package

4 star rating: Recommended 4 Reviews

If this is your first time to Istanbul and you want to see all the highlights of this amazing city at a leisurely pace, this is the tour for you. This four-day ...  Read more

Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: 4 days / 3 nights

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Small-Group Istanbul Walking Tour: Hagia Sophia Museum and the Blue Mosque

4.5 star rating: Recommended 10 Reviews

Visit Istanbul’s must-see sites on this 3.5-hour small-group walking tour of the city. With an expert guide at your side explaining Istanbul’s contrasting ...  Read more

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Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

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Private Tour: Istanbul’s Ottoman Experience Including Topkapi Palace and Blue Mosque

4.5 star rating: Recommended 7 Reviews

Discover three top Istanbul attractions in the city’s UNESCO-listed Sultanahmet neighborhood on a 4-hour private tour! While learning about the Ottoman days of ...  Read more

Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

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Istanbul Ottoman Tour: Topkapi Palace and Blue Mosque

4.5 star rating: Recommended 24 Reviews

Spend the morning exploring Istanbul's Ottoman past at the enchanting Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque.

Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $42.00

5-Day Small-Group Turkey Tour from Istanbul: Gallipoli and Troy

4.5 star rating: Recommended 5 Reviews

Discover Istanbul, Gallipoli and Troy on this history-rich 5-day tour of some of Turkey’s top destinations. With a round-trip transfer from Istanbul Airport or ...  Read more

Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: 5 days (approx.)

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3-Day Small-Group Istanbul Tour: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace

3 star rating: Worth doing 2 Reviews

Get to know Turkey’s undisputed capital of culture, Istanbul, on this 3-day tour that combines free time with guided sightseeing. On a full-day city tour, ...  Read more

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