Definitive guide

The Circus Maximus

The Circus Maximus is one of the most astonishing and fascinating landmarks in the history of Ancient Rome. Considered to be the largest sports stadium built by man, this archaeological area was the site of legendary entertainment activities for nearly a thousand years.

Built in the Murcia Valley, between the Palatine Hill and the Aventine Hill in Rome, the Circus Maximus is 600 meters long and 140 meters wide. With a capacity of about 300 thousand people—six times more than the Colosseum—it could host a quarter of the Roman population at the time. Just to give you an idea of the dimensions, the biggest football stadium in the world, Rungrado May Day Stadium in North Korea, has a seating capacity of 114 thousand.

Once a year, the Circus Maximus became the venue for an important and popular celebration—the Ludi Romani (Roman Games). The festival was held from September 12-14 (later extended to September 5-19) to honor the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. The games were organized by the curule aediles (formal magistrates) and included horse-drawn chariot races, gladiator fights, theatrical performances, foot races, animal fights, and more.

Today, the famous racing tracks are covered in grass, and there’s little else left to see. After archaeological investigations, it became a public park in 2016—a great spot to take a break from sightseeing the area around it. Besides, the site is used for concerts and events these days.