The Hippodrome once stood as one of the purest examples of Constantinople's classical Greek origins. Though the original structure dates back to pre-Roman times when the city was still called Byzantium, the Hippodrome was enlarged and improved by Constantine the Great, and remained in use for nearly 800 years.
It began to fall into disrepair after 1200, around the time of the Fourth Crusade, when marauding Christian armies from the West, sent forth by Pope Innocent III, sacked the city on their way to the Holy Land.
By the time Byzantine Emperor Michael Palaiologos had recaptured the city in 1261, the Hippodrome was in a poor state and he made no effort to restore it to its former glory. When the Ottomans took over in 1453, all hope that it would ever be repaired dwindled to nothing, since chariot racing wasn't really a Turkish hobby.