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Bygone Constantinople

The Hippodrome of Constantinople was the Byzantine metropolis's sporting hub, a place to watch (and bet on) chariot races. It mirrored similar open-air venues elsewhere in the Greco-Roman world: hippodromes being Grecian stadiums and "circuses" the Roman variant. (Thus the Hippodrome of Constantinople is, technically speaking, a circus.) Most of the Hippodrome is gone, but its footprint lives on as the Sultan Ahmet Square, which still displays a few Classical relics: the Serpent Column, for instance, built to commemorate the Greek victory during the Persian Wars and brought to Constantinople by Constantine the Great; and the Obelisk of Theodosius, of Ancient Egyptian vintage. More recent monuments of the square include the German Fountain, made in 1900 to honor Kaiser Wilhelm II's visit to Istanbul.

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