The hippodrome was an immense construction 480 meters length and 117.5
meters wide; it could seat, according to estimations one hundred thousand
spectators. It was build in 203 by the Emperor Septimus Severus and later
on Constantine the Great extended and remodeled it.
As Haghia Sophia was the center of religious life, the hippodrome was
the center of the civil activities. The interests and passions of the
population was divided between theological controversy and chariots races
on the hippodrome.
Today you can only see some monuments where the hippodrome was. If you
are curios and want to see how was the old Constantinople city center
click here ! The central line, or spina of the hippodrome was marked by
obelisks and columns, three of which are still outstanding monuments at
Sultan Ahmet square (see picture bellow: the red line is where the hippodrome
was located, behind it you can see the Blue Mosque and Saint Sophia).
The first monument is the Egyptian obelisk (first on the left from the
picture above). It was originally commissioned by the pharaoh Thutmose
III (1549-1503 B.C.) who erected it at Deir el Bahri opposite Thebes in
upper Egypt to commemorate one of his campaigns in Syria and his crossing
of the Euphrates river. It was erected on its present site by Theodosius
the Great in 390 A.C. and at the bottom of it there is a marble stone
with some sculptured relieves regarding Theodosius.
The second monument is the Serpent column. The three bronze serpents were
the base of a trophy that once stood at the temple of Apollo at Delphi.
It was dedicated to Apollo as a token of gratitude by the 31 Greek cities
which defeated in the Persian battle Plataea (479 B.C.). The column was
probably brought from Delphi by Constantine the Great.
The third monument is a roughly build pillar of stone 32 meters high dated
around the 4th century. It is know that the monument was formerly reverted
with gilded bronze plaques. In 1204, during the latin invasion, these
plaques were removed, melted down and minted.
Hagia Sophia, which is assumed as the first and the only unique application
in connection with its architecture, magnificence, size and functionality;
is a product of east - west synthesis which inspired the Ottoman mosques
on the basis of thoughts. This piece of art is one of the most important
monuments, remained till today of the world architectural history. For
this reason, Hagia Sophia had drawn attention of all humans with its architecture,
mosaics and Turkish era structures besides its historical background during
centuries. Hagia Sophia was church for 916 years, and mosque for 481 years,
and now functions as a museum since 1935.
The initial Hagia Sophia, which is assumed to be constructed by Emperor
Ist Konstantinos (324 - 337) by Byzantium historians had burned as a result
of a revolt, and no ruins had reached today.Emperor IInd Theodosius, had
constructed Hagia Sophia for the second time and opened for worship on
415. Similarly basilica planned this structure had burned on 532 during
Nika revolution. During the excavations performed on 1936, some ruins
related with this have been revealed. Stages, columns, heads showing the
entrance to this temple are various architectural parts.
It is at the square, which is mentioned with its name. This great mosque
and ýts kulliye, (theology school, school, imaret, caravansary
and hamam), is constructed by son of Fatih, II. Bayezit on 1501 - 1506.
It has two minarets which are 87 meters away from each other. Plan of
the Bayazýt Mosque is similar to Hagia Sophia. But it is separated
from it with especially a perfect architectural application which includes
a different characteristic having worship order of a culture.
Kapali Çarsi (Grand Bazaar)
Kapali Çarsi (Grand Bazaar) has been a shopper's Mecca since just
after the mid-15th century, when the smallish warehouse was turned into
a teeming bazaar by a constant stream of traders, selling everything from
carpets to cummin. These days it's the most fantastic, monstrous, labyrinthine
and totally manic shopping bazaar you could hope to experience.
Tourist shops selling glittery geegaws line the main streets, but delve
into the back streets and you'll still find Istanbullus buying a few metres
of cloth, a gold bangle for a daughter's birthday, a beautifully crafted
gold-plated 'eye' to ward off evil or an antique carpet.
The confusing labyrinth of streets was originally named after the goods
sold there (Mirror-makers St, Pearl Merchants St, Fez Makers St and so
on), and although that's not necessarily the case today, it is still possible
to buy precious gems, old coins and intricately crafted jewellery in Jewellers
The Grand Bazaar is also renowned for offering basement-bargain deals
on fur and leather goods, kilim products and a range of handcrafted goodies.
Just remember to keep your wits about you.
It is located on the promontory of the historical peninsula in Ýstanbul
which overlooks both the Marmara Sea and the Bosphorus. The walls enclosing
the palace grounds, the main gate on the land side and the first buildings
were constructed during the time of Fatih Sultan Mehmet (the Conqueror)
(1451 - 81). The palace has taken its present layout with the addition
of new structures in the later centuries. Topkapi Palace was the official
residence of the Ottoman Sultans, starting with Fatih Sultan Mehmet until
1856, when Abdülmecid moved to the Dolmabahçe palace, functioned
as the administrative center of the state. The Enderun section also gained
importance as a school.
The main exterior gate of the Topkapi Palace is the Imperial Gate (Bab-i
Hümayun) which opens up to the Ayasofya Square. This gate leads to
a garden known as the First Court. This court has the Aya Irini Church
which was once used as an ammunition depot and behind the Church there
is the mint. In the past various pavillions allocated to different services
of the palace were located in the First Court. In later years these have
been replaced with public buildings and schools. Some of these are still
existing. At the end of the 19th century Archeology Museum and School
of Fine Arts (now Oriental Works Museum) were built in the large garden
which is to the northwest of the First Court. The oldest structure in
this section is the Çinili Kösk built by Fatih, which is now
used as the Museum of Turkish Tiles and Ceramics. On the walls of this
outer garden facing Bab-i ali (the Imperial Gate), there is Alay Köskü
(procession Pavillion) where the Sultans used to watch the marching ceremonies.
A section of the outer garden was planned by the municipality at the beginning
of the 20th century and opened to the public. Known today as the Gülhane
Park, the enterance has one of the largerst gates of the palace. After
the First Court, there is the Second Court which contains the palace buildings.
It is entered through a monumental gate called Bab'us-Selam or the Middle
Yerebatan Sarayi (which translates as "Sunken Palace")
is Istanbul's largest underground cistern. It is the only one in the city
that has been renovated and opened for public viewing. The cistern was
constructed during the reign of Constantine I in the 4th century and was
enlarged by Justinian I in the 6th century. For much of the Ottoman period
it served as little more than a well and a fishing hole for the locals
in what is now Sultanahmet. In 1987 the cistern underwent massive restoration
work, which included the removal of 50,000 tons of mud and water. Today
Yerebatan Sarayi is a major tourist attraction and offers cool respite
from Istanbul's searing summer heat. Pulsing lights, water dripping from
the ceiling and eerie music played over strategically placed speakers
add an air of mystery to the place.
The cistern is 140 by 70 meters (459 by 230 feet) and holds 80,000 cubic
meters of water. Supporting the ceiling of small domes are 336 columns,
many of which are mismatched and appear to have been pilfered from elsewhere.
The purpose of the two large Medusa heads supporting a pair of columns
on the north side of the cistern is unknown, since they were not discovered
until the cistern was drained.
There are 9 islands on the city of Marmara close to the city of Istanbul.
These islands are called Princes' Islands, because in the old days the
princes used to be exiled in these islands. Four of these nine islands
are inhabited. There are mostly the summer houses of the inhabitants of
Istanbul. These islands are called Kinaliada, Burgazada, Heybeliada and
Buyukada. To drive cars, trucks or motorcycles are banded on the islands.
The only vehicles that are used are either bicycles or horse carts.
Princes Islands Cruise in Marmara Sea To Princes Islands retreats for
the Byzantine princes who are famous for their beautiful pine woods and
beaches. The largest and most enjoyable of the islands is Buyukada. There
you can enjoy a ride in a horsedrawn carriage among the pine trees after
relaxing on the beaches in the numerous coves of its coast.
The Imperial Fatih Mosque, constructed between 1462 and 1470, bears the
name of the Ottoman conqueror of Istanbul, Fatih Sultan Mehmet, and is
the site of his mausoleum. Standing atop another of Istanbul's hills,
its vast size and great complex of religious buildings - medreses, hospices,
baths, a hospital, a caravanserai and a library make it well worth a visit.
This was the first great Turkish complex to be built on an urban scale
in the city after the conquest. The patron was Mehmet (Fatih) (1451-1481)
himself. The architect is known as Atik Sinan. with which lakab - pseudonym-he
is general-ly distinguished from Koca Sinan, the great classical architect.
Construction of the complex took place between 1463-1470. Architecturally
it is one of the most well-integrated and successful groups of buildings
of its type on that scale. Among the auxiliary buildings were a school,
library, hospital, caravansaray, imaret and hamam, little trace of which
however survives today.