Last updated
Roman hippodrome in the ancient city of Aphrodisias, Turkey Aphrodisias stadium.jpg
Roman hippodrome in the ancient city of Aphrodisias, Turkey

The hippodrome (Greek : ἱππόδρομος) was an ancient Greek stadium for horse racing and chariot racing. The name is derived from the Greek words hippos (ἵππος; "horse") and dromos (δρόμος; "course"). The term is used in the modern French language and some others, with the meaning of "horse racecourse". Hence, some present-day horse-racing tracks also include the word "hippodrome" [1] in their names, such as the Hippodrome de Vincennes and the Central Moscow Hippodrome.



The Greek hippodrome was similar to the Roman version, the circus. The hippodrome was not a Roman amphitheatre, which was used for spectator sports, games, and displays, or a Greek or Roman semicircular theatre used for theatrical performances.

The Greek hippodrome was usually set out on the slope of a hill, and the ground taken from one side served to form the embankment on the other side. One end of the hippodrome was semicircular, and the other end square with an extensive portico, in front of which, at a lower level, were the stalls for the horses and chariots. At both ends of the hippodrome were posts (termai) that the chariots turned around. This was the most dangerous part of the track, and the Greeks put an altar to Taraxippus (disturber of horses) there to show the spot where many chariots wrecked.

A large ancient hippodrome was the Hippodrome of Constantinople, built between AD 203 and 330. However, since it was built to a Roman design, it was actually a circus.

Biga chariot rounding a terma: Attic black-figure amphora, circa 500 BC, found at Vulci Chariot terma Staatliche Antikensammlungen 1452.jpg
Biga chariot rounding a terma: Attic black-figure amphora, circa 500 BC, found at Vulci

List of Greek hippodromes

List of Roman hippodromes

List of modern horse-racing venues

See also

19th century:


Related Research Articles

Mount Lykaion

Mount Lykaion is a mountain in Arcadia, Greece. Lykaion has two peaks: Stefani to the north and St. Ilias to the south where the altar of Zeus is located.

Circus Maximus

The Circus Maximus is an ancient Roman chariot-racing stadium and mass entertainment venue in Rome, Italy. In the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills, it was the first and largest stadium in ancient Rome and its later Empire. It measured 621 m (2,037 ft) in length and 118 m (387 ft) in width and could accommodate over 150,000 spectators. In its fully developed form, it became the model for circuses throughout the Roman Empire. The site is now a public park.

Chariot Carriage using animals to provide rapid motive power

A chariot is a type of carriage driven by a charioteer, usually using horses to provide rapid motive power. Chariots were used by armies as transport or mobile archery platforms, for hunting or for racing, and as a conveniently fast way to travel for many ancient people.

Amphitheatre Open air entertainment venue

An amphitheatre or amphitheater is an open-air venue used for entertainment, performances, and sports. The term derives from the ancient Greek ἀμφιθέατρον (amphitheatron), from ἀμφί (amphi), meaning "on both sides" or "around" and θέατρον (théātron), meaning "place for viewing".

Pythian Games One of the Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece

The Pythian Games were one of the four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece. They were held in honour of Apollo at his sanctuary at Delphi every four years, two years after the Olympic Games, and between each Nemean and Isthmian Games. The Pythian Games were founded sometime in the 6th century BC. In legend they were started by Apollo after he killed Python and set up the oracle at Delphi. They continued until the 4th century AD.

Nemean Games One of the four Panhellenic Games

The Nemean Games were one of the four Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece, and were held at Nemea every two years.

Chariot racing Ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine sport

Chariot racing was one of the most popular Iranian, ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine sports. Chariot racing was dangerous to both drivers and horses as they often suffered serious injury and even death, but these dangers added to the excitement and interest for spectators. Chariot races could be watched by women, who were banned from watching many other sports. In the Roman form of chariot racing, teams represented different groups of financial backers and sometimes competed for the services of particularly skilled drivers. As in modern sports like football, spectators generally chose to support a single team, identifying themselves strongly with its fortunes, and violence sometimes broke out between rival factions. The rivalries were sometimes politicized, when teams became associated with competing social or religious ideas. This helps explain why Roman and later Byzantine emperors took control of the teams and appointed many officials to oversee them.

Race track Facility built for racing of animals, vehicles, or athletes

A race track is a facility built for racing of vehicles, athletes, or animals. A race track also may feature grandstands or concourses. Race tracks are also used in the study of animal locomotion. Some motorsport tracks are called speedways.

Hippodrome of Constantinople

The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydanı in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with a few fragments of the original structure surviving.


A quadriga is a car or chariot drawn by four horses abreast and favoured for chariot racing in Classical Antiquity and the Roman Empire until the Late Middle Ages. The word derives from the Latin contraction of quadriiuga, from quadri- : four, and iugum : yoke;

Circus Flaminius

The Circus Flaminius was a large, circular area in ancient Rome, located in the southern end of the Campus Martius near the Tiber River. It contained a small race-track used for obscure games, and various other buildings and monuments. It was "built", or sectioned off, by Gaius Flaminius in 221 BC. After Augustus divided the city into 14 administrative regions, the Circus Flaminius gave its name to Region IX, which encompassed the Circus and all of the Campus Martius west of the Via Lata.

A hippodrome was an ancient Grecian horse and chariot racing course and arena. Hippodrome or Hipódromo may also refer to:

Roman circus

The Roman circus was a large open-air venue used for public events in the ancient Roman Empire. The circuses were similar to the ancient Greek hippodromes, although circuses served varying purposes and differed in design and construction. Along with theatres, amphitheatres, and the much similar but smaller stadiums, circuses were one of the main entertainment sites of the time. Circuses were venues for chariot races, horse races, gladiatorial combat, and performances that commemorated important events of the empire were performed there.

Forum (Roman)

A forum was a public square in a Roman municipium, or any civitas, reserved primarily for the vending of goods; i.e., a marketplace, along with the buildings used for shops and the stoas used for open stalls. Many fora were constructed at remote locations along a road by the magistrate responsible for the road, in which case the forum was the only settlement at the site and had its own name, such as Forum Popili or Forum Livi.


In Ancient Roman religious tradition, Actia was a festival of Apollo, celebrated at Nicopolis in Epirus, with wrestling, musical contests, horse racing, and sea battles. It was reestablished by Augustus, in commemoration of his victory over Mark Antony off Actium in 31 BC; that it was probably the revival of an ancient festival is suggested by the celebrated temple of Apollo at Actium, which is mentioned by Thucydides, and Strabo, and which was enlarged by Augustus. The games instituted by Augustus were celebrated every five years ; they received the title of a sacred agon and were also called Olympia.

Walled Obelisk Roman monument in Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey)

The Walled Obelisk or Masonry Obelisk is a Roman monument in the form of an obelisk in the former Hippodrome of Constantinople, now Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul, Turkey. It is situated west of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, at the southern end of the ancient chariot-racing track of Constantinople's central barrier, beside the Obelisk of Theodosius and the Serpentine Column. Its original construction date in late antiquity is unknown, but it is sometimes named Constantine's Obelisk after the inscription added by the Roman emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, who repaired it in the 10th century.

In Greek mythology, the Taraxippus was a presence, variously identified as a ghost or dangerous site, blamed for frightening horses at hippodromes throughout Greece. Some taraxippoi were associated with the Greek hero cults or with Poseidon in his aspect as a god of horses who brought about the death of Hippolytus. Pausanias, the ancient source offering the greatest number of explanations, regards it as an epithet rather than a single entity.

Miróbriga Roman city in Lusitania

Miróbriga is an ancient Roman town located near the village and civil parish of Santiago do Cacém, in the municipality of the same name in the south-west of Portugal. Archeology revealed that the town occupied the site of an ancient Iron Age settlement that existed since the 9th century B.C.

Hippodrome of Berytus

The hippodrome of Berytus was a circus in the Roman colony of Berytus. It is one of two hippodromes in Beirut.


The Lageion also known as the Hippodrome of Alexandria, was a hippodrome situated in the city of Alexandria, Egypt, below the Serapeum. It is named after the founder of the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt, Ptolemy I Soter. Other sources cite that it was named after a figure called Lagos, who was believed to be the father of Ptolemy I.


  1. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hippodrome"  . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  2. ]http://corinth.sas.upenn.edu/lykaion/ly-plan.html Archived 2006-12-07 at the Wayback Machine
  3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080714145253.htm

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Ancient Roman circuses at Wikimedia Commons