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Circus Maximus (Rome, Italy)
Member Name: proxam
Circus Maximus (Rome, Italy)
Date: 19/05/11, updated on 04/11/13 (136 review reads)
Advantages: A quiet spot to escape the tourist frenzy of Rome
Yes, we were merrily on our way to the CIRCUS MAXIMUS.
What a swizz!
The Circus Maximus bears as much resemblance to the Big Top as a hippodrome does to a rhinoceros. Why it's nothing more than a huge open space where spectators used to watch races and such in Roman times.
It dates back to Etruscan times when it was first used to entertain the masses but its heyday arrived around 50BC when Julius Caesar had the builders in and enlarged the place to accommodate an estimated 270,000 spectators with perhaps as many again lining the surrounding hills for a free view.
Chariot racing was the big deal here, with up to 12 chariots hurtling madly around and around and around with Charlton Heston usually winning.
The track, stretching 620m in length and 18m wide traversed around a raised central island caled the Spina which was decorated with statues of various gods.
The last race was held almost 1,000 years after the first in AD 549...darn, missed it by a mere 1462 years.
Sadly, nothing much remains of what must have been an amazing arena in its day. The seating and the statues have long since departed and all that can be seen now is the Spina, the track surrounding it, and the raised area where many of the seats sat. Still, it's quite an impressive sight for all that. And lying below the ruins of the Imperial Palace on the Palatine, the surroundings are pretty photogenic too.
Circus Maximus is a park these days, but not a delicate, intricately planted park. Nor is it an elegant promenading type of park...ditto a wildlife haven. It's just a big expanse of grass (and not very good grass at that) with a few trees around the perimeter. However, a little sprinkle of imagination and you can almost hear the screaming roar of the crowd, the thundering chunder of the chariots and the crack of zinging whips as Ben Hur and his cronies raced hell for leather around this ancient track.
It's bit quieter now.
There's not a lot to do here, save walk around or sit on the grass eating a sandwich or an ice cream purchased from one of the many vendors situated around the park. It's only a very short stroll from the Collosseum and a nice place to escape the hustle and bustle of the area around the Collosseum and Forum. In fact that's exactly what we did and it was a treat to escape the throngs and sit reflectively musing on the greatness and wonder that was ancient Rome whilst munching on an overpriced, and bone-dry panini.
The irony is that while we were 1462 years late for the chariot racing, we were 28 days early to see Genesis perform there in the final show of their tour. Apparently they performed in front of 500,000 fans in what was a free show - so no danger of it selling out then...unlike Genesis...
So I suppose the Circus Maximus is not quite the redundant ancient monument first impressions would suggest, but a living, breathing entertainment venue, albeit one that neither lives, nor breathes, and one that hosts ancient monuments as entertainment.
* All spelling mistakes are entirely intentional.
Summary: No animals were harmed writing this circus review