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 during the Fourth Crusade and totally dismantled in the Ottoman period – many of the original columns were used in construction of the Süleymaniye Mosque.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Sultanahmet attractions

1. Marmara University Republican Museum

0.03 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…

2. 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…

3. Spiral Column

0.07 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…

4. Obelisk of Theodosius

0.09 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)…

5. Blue Mosque

0.11 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…

6. Hippodrome

0.12 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…

7. Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts

0.13 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…

8. Museum of Great Palace Mosaics

0.14 MILES

When archaeologists from the University of Ankara and Scotland's University of St Andrews excavated around the nearby Arasta Bazaar in the 1930s and 1950s…