The Circus Maximus dates back to the 4th century BC and is the oldest known Roman circus. It is located in the valley between the Palatine and the Aventine, two of Rome’s famous hills.
It is one of the largest states that man has ever created: the long facility covers an area of 600 m by 200 m. It had triple stone and wooden bleachers that could hold more than 300,000 spectators.
Circus Maximus: what to see and what to do
During the games, the Circus Maximus was primarily for horse races and chariot races, but gladiatorial fights and public executions were also held.
The Circus Maximus was used for this purpose until 549 AD, when the Ostrogoths conquered Rome, taking it from the control of the Byzantine empire.
After this date it fell into disuse: for a time it was even used as a cauliflower field.
New guided tours using augmented reality and virtual reality technologies help visitors understand this ancient archaeological area and its history, providing an immersive and innovative visitor experience.
The Circus Maximus is still used today as a gathering place for large crowds at concerts and events of various kinds.
Here are some pointers for your visit:
The southeast grandstand
The tribune to the southeast of the Circus Maximus is the only one of the grandstands in this facility that has been fairly well preserved.
Visiting the grandstand will give you a somewhat clearer idea of what the Circus Maximus looked like during its heyday and where spectators took their seats during the races.
The race track
Visiting the Circus Maximus you will immediately realize the vastness of this arena and the length of the circuit, an impressive 621 meters.
Around the track a narrow channel protected spectators and served the function of draining water during rains.
Over the centuries of neglect, the runway remained buried under mud as deep as 6 meters.
Curiosities about the Circus Maximus
- The world-renowned Colosseum is the most famous Roman arena. The Circus Maximus, was much larger. It contained five times the spectators of the Colosseum.
- The Circus Maximus today is used for major events: in 2001 it was used to celebrate Roma’s Scudetto.
- The Circus Maximus is much older than the Colosseum. It should date back six centuries earlier.
- Accessing and visiting the Circus Maximus is free, unlike the main archaeological sites in Rome.
How to get to Circus Maximus
The Circus Maximus is located just behind the Palatine Hill in the heart of Ancient Rome on Circus Maximus Street. It is located near the Roman Forum and within walking distance of the Colosseum.
Subway: Line B, Circus Maximus stop
Buses: 81, 160, 628, 715
Walking: Colosseum (9 min.), Trevi Fountain (22 min.), Pantheon (21 min.), Piazza Venezia (13 min.)
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