Before it was named the Sultanahmet Square it was known as the Hippodrome of Constantinople. The circus was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Only a few fragments of the original structure survived. In the ancient world horse racing and chariot racing were popular pastimes and hippodromes were common features of Greek cities in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras.
The German Fountain is a gazebo style fountain at the northern end of the old hippodrome or today’s Sultanahmet Square. It is across the Mausoleum of Sultan Ahmed I. It was constructed to celebrate the second anniversary of Emperor Wilhem II’s second visit to Istanbul in 1898. It’s amazing to know that it wasn’t actually build in Istanbul, but in Germany and transported piece by piece to Istanbul. There it was assembled at its current place in 1900. The neo-Byzantine style fountain’s octagonal dome has eight marble columns and the dome’s interior is covered with golden mosaics.
The Egyptian Obelisk is actually an obelisk that was removed from the Temple of Karnak at Thebes. It was originally carved around 1500 before Christ in order to celebrate the great victories of Pharaoh Thutmosis III. The emperor Theodosius had the obelisk moved to Constantinople in 390. It is only one third of its original height and stands on a marble base, sculpted with scenes of Theodosius and his family enjoying a day at the races.
We walked from the Sultanahmet tram stop to the Sultanahmet Square. It is so beautiful and the atmosphere is incredible. So peaceful and yet so vibrant. Is that even possible? It certainly is in Istanbul. I love the architecture and the beautifully arranged flower beds.