Rome Sights

Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus)

  • Between Palatine and Aventine hills Map It
  • Aventino
  • Archaeological Site/Ruins

Published 06/07/2016

Fodor's Review

From the belvedere of the Domus Flavia, you can see the Circus Maximus, the giant arena where 300,000 spectators watched chariot races while the emperor looked on. Ancient Rome's oldest and largest racetrack lies in a natural hollow between two hills. The oval course stretches about 650 yards from end to end; on certain occasions, there were as many as 24 chariot races a day and competitions could last for 15 days. The charioteers could amass fortunes rather like the sports stars of today. (The Portuguese Diocles is said to have totted up winnings of 35 million sestertii.) The noise and the excitement of the crowd must have reached astonishing levels as the charioteers competed in teams, each with their own colors—the Reds, the Blues, etc. Betting also provided Rome's majority of unemployed with a potentially lucrative occupation. The central ridge was the site of two Egyptian obelisks (now in Piazza del Popolo and Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano). Picture the great chariot race scene from MGM's Ben-Hur and you have an inkling of what this all looked like.

Sight Information


Between Palatine and Aventine hills, Rome, Latium, 00153, Italy

Map It

Published 06/07/2016


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