The Circus Maximus, situated in a valley between the Aventine and Palentine Hills, was primarily used for chariot-racing but also accommodated a variety of public games. Measuring 2, 037 feet in length and 387 to 459 feet in width, this amphitheatre can sit anywhere from 150,000 to 320,000 people. This great structure, a feat even for the sixth century B.C., is basically constructed in an oval shape with a flatted end that facilitated the chariots. It has three stories, the first of which features arches and engaged columns. The seats on all stories are separated into zones by walkways.
The structure has multiple entrances and ascents that provided convenience for all spectators and a line of shops provided many interesting attractions. This site once featured an Egyptian obelisk (long-removed) and a spina (spine) which served as a barrier at the starting gate and along the edges of the track to make racing easier and more focused. Most interesting is the euripus (a 10-feet deep, 10-feet wide channel once filled with water), encircling the outside. This arena was the first, and by far the biggest, circus in ancient Rome. Tours are also available and will supply many photographs for hours of enjoyable conversation.
Address: Via del Circo Massimo, 00186 Roma, Italy
Phone: +39 06 0608