SULTANAHMET SQUARE AND HIPPODROME
The Sultanahmet Square is the oldest part of Istanbul. The political and religious centre of the city and empire, the emperor’s palace and Hagia Sophia are located here. It also includes the Hippodrome, where the social festivities are held.
The Milion, built by the Emperor Constantine I in the 4th century during the East Roman Empire is the sign that Sultanahmet Square is the centre of the earth, the “ground zero”. This means that this location is considered as the centre of the Empire. Here start all the ancient roman roads reaching the city of Constantinopolis in the Byzantine Empire. And it is also the zero-mile marker for figuring out the distances of all cities on earth.
There had been no major change in the disposition of this place during the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman palaces are situated here. Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque) was built here. Hippodrome was converted to At Meydani (Horse Square) where jereed (a special old Turkish horseman competition with javelin) games were held. Also the most important historical monuments of Istanbul like Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum and the Basilica Cistern surrounds the square.