Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality of Turkey presented a project to unearth the Ancient Roman Hippodrome under Sultanahmet Square to the Turkish Conservation Regional Board. Istanbul Municipality announced the project on Twitter with a video.
Mahir Polat, Deputy Secretary General of Istanbul Municipality, said, “The “Spina” wall of the hippodrome is still standing, but we could not get a response from the Ministry of Treasury and Finance for the restoration.”
Although the Ancient Roman Hippodrome in Istanbul was originally built in the 2nd century AD, the magnificent Hippodrome, whose ruins are located in Sultanahmet Square (Horse Square) today, was reconstructed by Constantine the Great in the 4th century. Converting Byzantion to Nea Roma had a price, and one of those costs was the Hippodrome! And if the New Rome was to become the capital, Constantinople, it had to be the city’s most spectacular work.
Carriage races, the favorite sport of the audience in Constantinople and held in the magnificent Hippodrome, were at the center of life in the 6th century AD. These chariot races were fanatical, and fans flocked to the arena to watch their favorite racers compete. The heat in the races occasionally raised tensions so much that it led to the outbreak of large-scale riots.
Polat said, “The area needs to be transferred to a public institution. We have been demanding this for two years from the Erdogan government. In fact, this place needs to be allocated to Istanbul municipality. Action should be taken in whatever aspect is deemed appropriate. As long as Istanbul’s tourism, culture and most importantly, the city’s economy can benefit from it. We have conveyed this request, and the people of Istanbul are waiting for the work to be done.”
Turkey’s opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoglu won the election in Istanbul in 2019. Just like the Hippodrome of Constantinople project, Erdogan’s government blocks most of the projects of Istanbul’s mayor, the opposition party claims.
“The Hippodrome’s ‘Wall of Spina’ is still standing. At the moment, there is an area of at least 7-8 thousand square meters that can be unearthed. It can be restored and brought into tourism. My claim is that the hippodrome will be one of the most touristic places in Istanbul. There are so many valuable things to excavate there.”