This photo of the Circus Maximus is part of one of the panoramic images found on the PanoramicEarth.com Tour of Rome. There are over 100 images taken from around
Unfortunately there is very little remaining of the Circus Maximus in
There is evidence to suggest that the area of the Circus Maximus was first used by the Etruscan kings as a place for games as far back as 600 BC. It continued to be associated with public events and in 50 BC Julius Caesar expanded the arena. In 81, the Senate built a triple arch honoring Titus by the closed East end (not to be confused with the Arch of Titus on the opposite side of the Palatinum Hill near to the Colosseum and Roman Forum).
This was made for chariot racing, the track is about 600m long and 80m wide and could hold 12 chariots at a go. The two sides of the track were separated by a spina (spine) that ran down the center. At each end was a meta, a turning post the chariots would career round at dangerous speeds. The number of laps was marked by rotatable metal dolphins set along the top of the spina. The spina also supported various statues and Augustus placed an obelisk here (moved to Piazza del Popolo by pope Sixtus in 16C).
It is hard to imagine the chaos and confusion that must have resulted during the race, and the best depiction is probably still the chariot race in Ben Hur. Only one of the 12 chariots would survive the race, the others crashing at some point throughout. There was a dedicated crew whose only job was to remove the remains of ruined chariots and the dead and injured people and animals from the track without becoming track-kill themselves.
This image is taken from the lookout on the Via del Circo Massimo. Behind the Circus Maximus you can see the Palatine Hill and the ruins of Domitian’s Palace. Further panoramas from Rome are on PanoramicEarth.com. An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr.
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