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5/50.- Istanbul, Sultanahmet Square view of Hagia Sophia

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Sultanahmet Square occupies today the area known in the Roman times as the Hippodrome. Built in the 2nd-3rd centuries AD the hippodrome had a capacity of 100.000 spectators, who could watch chariots races, gladiators and wild beasts; the stairs to tiers used to be decorated with statues which is believed were destroyed or pillaged by the crusaders in the 13th c.

Two obelisks survived and can still be seen in Sultanahmet Square, the column of Theodosius - brought from Hierapolis, Egypt: it is inscribed with hieroglyphics dating from the 15c BC and later decorated with scenes from Theodosius life; and the Walled Obelisk set up in the time of Constantine VII.

Other Roman columns in Sultanahmet Square are: Constantine's Column, brought from the Temple of Apollo in Rome, was originally a statue of Apollo, which was replaced by Constantine the Great with his own statue dating from 330 AD; and the Serpentine Column, found in the Temple of Apollo in Delphi and brought to Constantinople also by Emperor Constantine the Great. In the picture is Hagia Sophia as seen from Sultanahmet Square.

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