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Sultan Ahmet Square, or the Hippodrom, has been the most important and dynamic part of the city in all ages. In Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman times, the Hippodrome served as the city's main meeting, entertainment and sports center. It was divided into two by a low wall around which the chariots raced. On this wall stood monuments brought here from different corners of the empire. Three monuments have remained to our day: the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpent Column and the Walled Obelisk. The Palace of Ibrahim Pasa opposite Sultan Ahmet Mosque is the sole example of the imposing private residences of the 16th century. This elegant building now houses the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art.

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