The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus and the sporting and social center of Constantinople. It contained the Obelisk of Theodosius and a view point on one of its columns. Its remains survive to this day.
Origins and disrepair
The Hippodrome once stood as one of the purest examples of Constantinople's classical Greek origins. Though the original structure dates back to pre-Roman times when the city was still called Byzantium, the Hippodrome was enlarged and improved by Constantine the Great, and remained in use for nearly 800 years.
It began to fall into disrepair after 1200, around the time of the Fourth Crusade, when marauding Christian armies from the West, sent forth by Pope Innocent III, sacked the city on their way to the Holy Land.
By the time Byzantine Emperor Michael Palaiologos had recaptured the city in 1261, the Hippodrome was in poor state and he made no effort to restore it to its former glory. When the Ottomans took over in 1453, all hope that it would ever be repaired dwindled to nothing, as chariot-racing was not a Turkish hobby.
In 1511, Ezio Auditore da Firenze met with Yusuf Tazim at the Hippodrome to discuss foiling an attack on Prince Suleiman. Later that year, Ezio and another Assassin tailed the murderous actress Lysistrata to the Hippodrome and found the bodies of her victims. Ezio also returned to the Hippodrome to find a book, The Travels of Marco Polo.
During modern times, it became a square named Sultanahmet Meydanı, or "Sultan Ahmet Square", which was sometimes referred to by Turkish residents as the Atmeydanı, or "Horse Square". By the 21st century, only a few fragments of the original structure remained.