Circus Maximus
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member RakeInTheCache
N 41° 53.050 E 012° 29.311
33T E 291620 N 4639965
Quick Description: The Circus Maximus (Latin for greatest circus, in Italian Circo Massimo) is an ancient hippodrome located in Rome.
Location: Lazio, Italy
Date Posted: 7/29/2007 12:05:57 PM
Waymark Code: WM1XTN
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 260

Long Description:
Metro Station : Line B "Circo Massimo".

Situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills, the location was first utilized for public games and entertainment by the Etruscan kings of Rome. Certainly, the first games of the Ludi Romani (Roman Games) were staged at the location by Tarquinius Priscus, the first Etruscan ruler of Rome. Somewhat later, the Circus was the site of public games and festivals influenced by the Greeks in the 2nd century BC. Meeting the demands of the Roman citizenry for mass public entertainment on a lavish scale, Julius Caesar expanded the Circus around 50 BC, after which the track measured approximately 600 m (1,968 ft) in length, 80 m (387 ft) in breadth and could accommodate an estimated 250,000 spectators (many more, perhaps an equal number again, could view the games by standing, crowding and lining the adjoining hills).

In 81, the Senate built a triple arch honoring Titus by the closed East end (not to be confused with the Arch of Titus over the Via Sacra on the opposite side of the Palatinum).

The emperor Domitian connected his new palace on the Palatine to the Circus in order that he could more easily view the races. The emperor Trajan later added another 5000 seats and expanded the emperor's seating in order to increase his public visibility during the games.

Chariot racing was the most important event at the Circus. The track could hold twelve chariots, and the two sides of the track were separated by a raised median termed the spina. The spina was set slightly diagonally. Statues of various gods were set up on the spina, and Augustus erected an Egyptian obelisk on it as well. At either end of the spina was a turning post, the meta, around which chariots made dangerous turns at speed. On top of the spina, there were rotatable metal dolphins that were turned down to mark laps around the course. Chariot racing was a very dangerous sport, frequently resulting in spectacular crashes and quite possibly the death of one or more of the contestants. One end of the track extended further back than the other, to allow the chariots to line up to begin the race. Here there were starting gates, or carceres, which staggered the chariots so that each travelled the same distance to the first turn. During these chariot races, bribery of the judge in order to fix the start of the race was very common. The race went for a total distance of about 6.5 km (4 mi).

Very little now remains of the Circus, except for the now grass-covered racing track and the spina. Some of the starting gates remain, but most of the seating has disappeared, the materials no doubt employed for building other structures in medieval Rome.
Most Relevant Historical Period: Roman Republic 509 B.C. - 27 B.C.

Admission Fee: Free

Opening days/times:
24 x 7


Web Site: [Web Link]

Condition: Some remaining traces (ruins) or pieces

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