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Circus of Maxentius

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

Via Appia Antica, 153, 00179 Roma RM, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

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Ambra
Local tour guide
"Visit the Circus of Maxentius on a weekday morning to avoid the crowds and have a more peaceful experience exploring this ancient monument. Also, don't miss the nearby Tomb of Caecilia Metella, which is less frequented by tourists and offers a unique glimpse into Rome's imperial past."

What is Circus of Maxentius?

The Circus of Maxentius is a well-preserved ancient Roman chariot racing stadium situated along the storied Appian Way, just outside of Rome. It's often overshadowed by the larger Circus Maximus in the city center, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in its remarkable state of preservation and the tranquility of its surroundings. This ancient structure is part of a larger complex that includes the remains of a villa, the Mausoleum of Maxentius, and several other buildings, all part of an imperial estate constructed by Emperor Maxentius.

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History of Circus of Maxentius

The Circus of Maxentius was constructed between AD 306 and 312, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Maxentius. This was relatively late in the Roman Empire's history and is part of the reason why the circus is so well-preserved—unlike earlier structures, it was used for a shorter period before the decline of chariot racing and the empire. Maxentius built this complex as part of an imperial retreat away from the city center, but it is ironically best known today for the emperor's defeat by Constantine at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in AD 312, which led to his death.

The circus itself was specifically designed for chariot races, a popular entertainment form in Ancient Rome. It was second in size only to the Circus Maximus and could seat approximately 10,000 spectators. Interestingly, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the circus was never built over, which is a significant reason why it remains relatively intact today compared to other ancient stadia.

Why is Circus of Maxentius Important?

The importance of the Circus of Maxentius lies in its representation of Roman engineering and entertainment culture. It's one of the best-preserved circuses from the ancient world, allowing visitors to gain an authentic insight into where Romans would gather in their thousands to be entertained by the thrilling, and often dangerous, chariot races. Its location on the Appian Way, one of the most important ancient Roman roads, highlights its significance in the context of Roman infrastructure and society.

Beyond its historical and archaeological value, the circus has also become an important green space for Rome. Nestled in the Roman countryside, it offers a serene escape from the bustling city. For those interested in architecture, the Circus of Maxentius is a direct link to the past, showcasing the ingenuity of Roman construction techniques. It has stood the test of time, resisting the elements and human interference for over 1,700 years.

Things to Do & See at Circus of Maxentius

Visiting the Circus of Maxentius, you have the opportunity to walk around the racing track and take in the scale of the venue where chariots once dashed by at breakneck speeds. You can explore the remains of the imperial box, where Maxentius himself would have sat to watch the races. The seating areas, though now mostly just foundations, give a good impression of how the space would have been filled with eager spectators.

Do not miss the Mausoleum of Maxentius, which is part of the complex. Although it has been stripped of its once lavish decoration, the structure of the mausoleum is still quite imposing. Immediately after, I always recommend a walk along the Appian Way itself. Here you can experience the same historic road that great generals, emperors, and ordinary Romans walked thousands of years ago. You'll be tracing the steps of history.

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For those interested in the engineering marvels of the Romans, take a close look at the spina, the central barrier of the circus, which once held the obelisks and other monuments around which the charioteers would race. Though much of the circus is in ruins, enough remains to give you a clear picture of its original grandeur and function. As a hidden gem amongst Rome's many attractions, the Circus of Maxentius offers a unique perspective on Roman history, away from the crowds and commercialization of the more famous sites.

Frequently asked questions

What is the Circus of Maxentius?

The Circus of Maxentius is an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue located on the Via Appia just outside of Rome, Italy. It is part of a complex of buildings erected by Emperor Maxentius on his estate.

Where is the Circus of Maxentius located?

The Circus of Maxentius is located on the Via Appia, near the third mile of the ancient road, in the southeastern part of Rome. It is a part of a larger archaeological park.

When was the Circus of Maxentius built?

The Circus of Maxentius was built between AD 306 and 312 during the reign of Emperor Maxentius.

What can visitors see at the Circus of Maxentius today?

Visitors to the Circus of Maxentius can see the well-preserved remains of the circus itself, which include the track, the spina (central barrier), starting gates, and seating areas. The site is also part of a larger archaeological landscape that includes other structures from the estate of Maxentius.

Is there an entrance fee for the Circus of Maxentius?

There may be an entrance fee for the Circus of Maxentius, as it forms part of the Appian Way Regional Park. Visitors should check the latest information for up-to-date ticket prices and visiting hours before planning their visit.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

Via Appia Antica, 153, 00179 Roma RM, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps