Obelisk of Theodosius


In the centre of the Hippodrome, this immaculately preserved pink granite obelisk was carved in Egypt during the reign of Thutmose III (r 1549–1503 BC) and erected in the Amon-Re temple at Karnak. Theodosius the Great (r 379–95) had it brought from Egypt to Constantinople in AD 390. On the marble podium below the obelisk, look for the carvings of Theodosius, his wife, his sons, state officials and bodyguards watching the chariot-race action from the kathisma (imperial box).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Sultanahmet attractions

1. Spiral Column

0.02 MILES

Coming up out of a hole in the ground, this strange column was once much taller and was topped by three serpents' heads. Originally cast to commemorate a…

2. Hippodrome

0.03 MILES

The Byzantine emperors loved nothing more than an afternoon at the chariot races, and this rectangular arena alongside Sultanahmet Park was their venue of…

3. Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts

0.04 MILES

This Ottoman palace was built in 1524 for İbrahim Paşa, childhood friend, brother-in-law and grand vizier of Süleyman the Magnificent. It now houses a…

4. Rough-Stone Obelisk

0.05 MILES

After sacking Aya Sofya in 1204, the soldiers of the Fourth Crusade tore all the plates from this obelisk, at the Hippodrome's southern end, in the…

5. Marmara University Republican Museum

0.08 MILES

Located at the southern end of the Hippodrome, this museum is housed in a handsome example of Ottoman Revivalism, a homegrown architectural style popular…

6. Blue Mosque

0.09 MILES

İstanbul's most photogenic building was the grand project of Sultan Ahmet I (r 1603–17), whose tomb is located on the north side of the site facing…

7. Sphendone

0.09 MILES

The only remaining built section of the Hippodrome hints at how monumental the arena was. The level of galleries that once topped this section was damaged…

8. Kaiser Wilhelm's Fountain

0.11 MILES

Near the northern end of the Hippodrome, this little gazebo with beautiful stonework was presented to the sultan and his people as a token of friendship…