The Circus Maximus (Circo Massimo in Italian) was a chariot racing stadium from Ancient Rome. Originally built in the 6th century BC, it was the largest stadium used for public events and served as a model for other stadiums constructed throughout the Ancient Roman Empire. The stadium was constructed in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine Hills of Rome though difficult to imagine today from the roads and new constructions. It was a spectacle in its day that would have been impressive even by today’s standards. With a capacity of 150,000 it still remains the 3rd largest stadium ever built.
Today Circus Maximus is a public park that is also often used to hold large outdoor concerts, like the Rolling Stones and Roger Waters. Until now uou needed to admire the open space and use your imagination to visualize what the stadium had looked like, rebuilding it from the few traces left. A new viewing experience for the Circus Maximus, called the Circo Maximo Experience, uses augmented and virtual reality technologies to rebuild the ancient stadium in real time and based on your real perspective.
The Circo Maximo Experience
The experience is self-guided but groups are paced every 15 minutes between 9:30am – 7pm (until 4:30pm Nov-March) to ensure there aren’t too many visitors crowding at each of the 8 viewpoints. Note: the experience is suspended during inclement weather (rain, excessive heat, etc.)
After purchasing your ticket, you’ll receive the viewing headset and headphones. You’re asked which language you would like for the experience (available languages include: Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, and Russian). From here you’ll be taken to the first viewing point. To activate each viewing area, you point the headset at a sign which will prompt the audio and visual tour to start for that part.
There are a total of eight viewpoints, that take you through the story of Circus Maximus. From its earliest beginnings as a religious place for cults that resided in the valley the splendor of the temples, arches, obelisks and statuary, as well as store fronts that inhabited the stadium. While the audio explains the history and what you’re looking at, the augmented reality rebuilds the ancient structures in full 360 degree viewing, so you can gain a sense of scale all around you.
The experience continues through the history of the site long after its use as a public stadium including the Middle Ages and even as recently as the 1920s under Benito Mussolini. By the end of the experience, you’ll surely view the large open space different and with a newfound appreciation.
The entire experience lasts about 40 minutes. The amount of information is just right with plenty of historical information.
Visit the official website for more information.
Tickets are available for purchase at the on-site ticket booth as well as online. Regular ticket prices are €12 for each adult, or €10 for visitors under 26 years old or over 65. The ticket price includes a map as well as the viewing headset.
Stay at a vacation rental near Circus Maximus
The Circus Maximus is located at the sound end of the historical center, on the B metro line (stop: Circo Massimo). It’s a short walk to the Colosseum, Jewish neighborhood, Testaccio, Ostiense/Pyramid and Trastevere. Check out these apartments near Circus Maximus:
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Have you visited the Circo Maximo Experience? Share your experience with us in the comments below!