Rough-Stone Obelisk


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 mistaken belief that they were solid gold (in fact, they were gold-covered bronze). The Crusaders also stole the famous Triumphal Quadriga (team of four horses cast in bronze) and placed them atop the main door of Venice's Basilica di San Marco.

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. Marmara University Republican Museum

0.04 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…

3. Obelisk of Theodosius

0.05 MILES

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)…

4. Sphendone

0.05 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…

5. Hippodrome

0.08 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…

6. Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts

0.08 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…

7. Blue Mosque


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…

8. Tomb of Sultan Ahmet I

0.15 MILES

The türbe (tomb) of Sultan Ahmet I, the Blue Mosque’s great patron, is on the north side of the mosque facing Sultanahmet Park. Ahmet, who had ascended to…