St. Agnes

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Stadio Domiziano – Rome

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Piazza Navona is famous for its baroque atmosphere however its true face is buried underground. One of the most famous attractions in Rome originally was a Roman Stadium: the Stadio Domiziano.  The Emperor Domitian established in 86 AD the festival dedicated to Jupiter and devoted this stadium to great celebrations that included music, gymnastics and equestrian competitions.

This is the first known example of a stadium outside of the Greek world and the first permanent site for competitive games in Rome. The stadium Domitian had an extraordinary capacity of almost 30,000 people.

The Stadium facades resembled the Colosseum while the floor plan was inspired by the Circus Maximus. The structure was built in a way that each spectator could have a clear view of the games.

After the Colosseum was damaged by a fire in 217 AD the Stadium was used for gladiator shows for many years.

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A Christian legend tells that St. Agnes was martyred here during emperor Diocletian’s reign.

During the decline of the Roman Empire the Stadium became a house for the poor people that moved from the surrounding hills.

The structure was almost entirely destroyed during the Renaissance period as people looted the materials to build their own homes and structures.