What was the Circus Maximus?

Meet the Colosseum’s big brother, Circus Maximus is hundreds of years older than the Colosseum!

Circus Maximus was built by order of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus in the 6th century BC. Circus Maximus is a venue and is Rome’s largest and oldest public space. The venue could hold 250,000 people with an additional 250,000 people who could watch events from the hills.

By the 20th century, the venue was partially excavated before being remodelled.

Going by the fact Circus Maximus is the Colosseum’s big brother, the venue is in Rome and is between Aventine Hill and Palatine Hill. Nearby there is the River Tiber, the Colosseum itself and the Roman Forum.

So, what exactly was Circus Maximus?

Circus Maximus

It was a chariot racing stadium

Circus Maximus was a famous stadium in Rome where chariot racing would take place. Not only was it used for chariot racing, the stadium was a mass entertainment venue! Here was where gladiator fights and Roman games were also held.

What is chariot racing?

Chariot racing was a popular ancient Roman, Greek, and Byzantine sport. The sport was where someone would be inside a two-wheel chariot (cart) that was pulled along by either two, four, or six horses.

There would be around four to six people (drivers) in individual chariots and they’d race around the venue. Typically the drivers would do about seven laps which would involve collision which caused the chariots to be destroyed. When this happened, usually the driver would die or be seriously injured.

Can I see Circus Maximus?

Yes, you can in fact still see Circus Maximus! The venue has been remodelled, but it still hosts major events including concerts and rallies.

You won’t be able to see how the venue originally looked as flooding caused the stadium to fall apart and eventually buried the site. The stone blocks that were used for the stadium were also used for other buildings or people stole them.

If you’d like to visit Circus Maxiums, you easily can! If you get the Metro on Line B, this line stops by Circo Massimo. You can enter the area for free if there are no events running at the time.

There are tours available that take you around ancient sites of Rome, including Circus Maximus. This ancient Rome and Colosseum tour stops by major Roman sites including Circus Maximus, Colosseum, and Roman Forum.

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