The Hippodrome in Istanbul, Turkey

Last updated on March 4th, 2024

Out walking in the city, we pass a small – but elegant – monument (which will quickly become a key navigational landmark) and head for the plaza beyond.


The open space around us was once part of the Byzantine hippodrome used for chariot racing. There isn’t much left from those days – an Egyptian obelisk (circa 1500 BC) erected around 400 AD, a twisted bronze post once topped by the heads of serpents (brought here from Delphi), and a few other scattered remnants.


From travel books and maps, I expected this space to be a huge, empty gap in the fabric of the city. Instead it is a pleasant linear plaza, a welcoming place crowded with tourists like me as well as local tourists and worshipers on their way to Friday prayers. It makes for great people watching.


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