Cirus Maximus

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Circus Maximus

Rome - Circus Maximus

Circus Maximus is the biggest Roman arena and the oldest circus from Ancient Rome. It is located between the Palatine Hill and the Aventine Hill in the Murcia Valley. Circus Maximus was famous for its chariot races; even if today many see it as some mere ruins, we can still appreciate how big it was for its time with its 600 meters in length and 80 meters in width.

Circus Maximus was able to welcome up to 250 000 people when it was originally built, and even more after some renovations were made. It was first used during the Etruscans era in the 6th century B.C. Julius Caesar later extended the Circus and added a gap between the arena and the bleachers in order to protect people watching the race.

Things to see

After the big fire of Rome in 64 A.D., the seats were rebuilt out of stone and marble while the arena itself was enlarged to be able to welcome up to 300 000 people. In the middle of the arena was the “Spina”, which divided the arena into two different parts. The Spina was a small wall covered by statues, fountains, columns and other embellishments, along with Augustus’ Obelisk.  This obelisk, the first ever brought over from Egypt, still exists and can be seen today on Piazza del Popolo. The chariots racers would ride around this obelisk in the middle of the Spina.

It is actually still possible to see vestiges of the starting point of the chariots if you go on the side of Viale Aventino. The last race happened in 549 A.D. but after that the Circus Maximus slowly fell into disuse and decay. Nowadays, it has become a large green space where people go to jog or exercise; concerts and other events are sometimes held there.