Sultan Ahmet and the surrounding areas, as the center of the Historical Peninsula, are the most vivid tourism center of Istanbul. It is the most important region in Istanbul with Hagia Sophia Museum at one and Blue Mosque at the other, museums with rich collections,cisterns and hippodrome monuments.
Square in the south of Hagia Sophia was called Augusteion in the Byzantine period. There was the statue of Helena,mother of Constantine the Great, on a great column in the middle of the square. It was the most important square of the city besides the Forum Constantine. In the southeast of the square there was Khalke Entrance, the entrance of the Grand Palace and around the square baths and palaces of important peoples were aligned.
The Hippodrome in the north of Blue Mosque was the most magnificent and active square of Byzantine and Ottoman periods. The Hippodrome had a rectangular plan with a southern edge rounded, and was a horse car racing area allowing 30-40 thousand people to watch.Racing cars were rounding Spina,the wall in the center. Only three of the monuments on Spina do extant.These are; Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpent Column and the Walled Obelisk.
The Hippodrome’s name was changed to Horse Square (Atmeydani) during the Ottoman era. Beside palace weddings, big ceremonies and javelin games,riots were experienced in this square.