Serpent Column – Istanbul, Turkey - Atlas Obscura
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Istanbul, Turkey

Serpent Column

Ancient serpentine sacrifice holder that has stood the test of time. 

Part of a snake-headed bronze tripod set up in 478 BCE at the shrine of Apollo in Delphi, Greece, to commemorate the victory of the Greeks over the invading Persians the previous year at the battle of Plataea (think the ending of the movie ‘300’). The names of the city-states that sent soldiers to the battle were inscribed on the column’s coils. The tripod was moved to Constantinople (now Istanbul) by Constantine the Great in 324 CE. One of its heads is in the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul, its lower jaw missing - possibly because, according to the British historian Edward Gibbon, when the Ottoman Sultan took the city on May 29, 1453, he shattered it with his mace as a test of strength. Now the remaining coiled pole stands in a fenced-off enclosure.

Know Before You Go

The Hippodrome, now called Sultanahmet Meydanı (Sultan Ahmet Square), lies on the northwest side of Sultanahmet Mosque, aka the Blue Mosque.