Roman circuses were the most important centres of entertainment in the Roman cities, apart from the theatres and amphitheatres. They were extended precincts in which the public games were held, consisting of chariot races and different spectacles.
The Circus Maximus in Rome (Circo Massimo), located between the Aventino and Palatine Hills, was an extended precinct with space for 300,000 spectators. The arena, which measured 600 meters in length and 225 meters in width, made the Circus Maximus the largest in Rome, ahead of the Circus of Flaminius and the Circus of Maxentius.
Celebrations in the Circus Maximus
In the Circus Maximus several competitions were carried out, standing out among them chariot races, in which participants tried to complete seven laps of the Circus Maximus. The competitors, mounted in small chariots drawn by horses, gambled much more than their prestige or large prizes in the races, since many of them were slaves fighting for their liberty.
During the public games, equestrian exhibitions, known as "Ludus Troiae", also took place. These were a simulation of various famous battles carried out by young Roman aristocrats. There were also foot races that lasted for several hours. The spectators would bet on the winners, making the competitions even more exciting.
The importance of using your imagination
Currently, the ruins of what was once the Circus Maximus barely remain. There is only the enormous terrace that keeps the form that it had in its day, which often causes disappointment for tourists who visit it hoping to find at least the ruins of the precinct.