Circus Maximus

3d model and reconstruction

Circus Maximus

The imposing structure of the Circus Maximus still characterizes the topography of Rome today.

First built in the times of Tarquinius Priscus, the structure underwent many changes. Our reconstruction dates to 64 AD when the circus was destroyed by fire in the reign of Nero. In this period the circus did not have the arch in the center of the curve that was built later, in the time of Titus.

It is possible to reconstruct the circus thanks to numerous depictions that have survived from antiquity. In particular there is a beautiful mosaic in the villa in Piazza Armerina, where you can clearly see the structure of the spine, the obelisk and the racing chariots.

Another reconstruction shows the structure during the age of Severus.

Apart from the images in the viewer, on request, it is possible to have videos or other images from different perspectives.

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Short history of

Circus Maximus

According to tradition, Romulus is supposed to have instituted chariot races in honor of the god Consus, a god venerated at an underground altar located in the valley between the Palatine and the Aventine hills.

It was Tarquinius Priscus, however, who is said to have been the first to set up a space dedicated to equestrian competitions, building wooden seats to host the spectators, called “public forums.” In 293 BC wooden cages, called “carceres,” were built to house the chariots at the starting line.

In the following centuries the track was divided into two lanes by a central spine, the carceres were rebuilt in masonry, a sacred area, called the “pulvinar” was built toward the Palatine in honor of the gods overseeing the games, and the structure of the circus was continually enlarged.

In the Augustan age the Circus Maximus was 621 meters long, and 118 meters wide and it could hold 150,000 spectators. The spine was decorated by an obelisk and by seven bronze dolphins which served to count the laps of the race. After Nero’s fire the circus was enlarged to hold 250,000 spectators, and in the 4th century capacity reached the impressive figures of 385,000 seats.

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