Circus Maximus – Ancient Rome’s sporting centre

Imagine watching a thrilling chariot race in a crowd of over 250,000 people. For over a thousand years, the people of Rome were treated to such spectacles at the awe-inspiring Circus Maximus.

Love watching sport – ancient style? Then this is the ultimate stadium. More than a quarter of the city’s entire population would cram inside to watch their heroes do battle on the track. It was a symbol of Rome’s power, authority and generosity of spirit.

All good things come to an end

Constructed between 600 and 700 BC, the Circus Maximus fell into disrepair from about the 6th century AD onwards. Quarried, flooded and even used as a market garden, it’s a testament to the architectural skill of the Romans that you can still make out its size and shape – even under 6 metres (18 feet) of earth.

Hop off our Rome Bus Tour and walk the length of the track. You can almost hear the roar of the crowd and thundering approach of chariots.

Other interesting facts about the Circus Maximus

  • The Circus Maximus hosted the party after Italy’s triumph in the 2006 World Cup, proving that its sporting spirit still survives
  • Much of the stone from the Circus Maximus was used in the construction of Rome’s Renaissance masterpieces
  • As well as chariot races, it was also used to host wild beast hunts, public games and celebrations following victories in war against Rome’s enemies
  • The Circus Maximus is 621 metres (2,037 feet) long and 121 metres (396 feet) wide
  • Up to 12 chariots, pulled by either 2 or 4 horses, could race on the track at the same time