Route: EGYPT THE EMPIRE THE POPES. THE CITY OF OBELISKS
Via del Circo Massimo www.sovraintendenzaroma.it Always open.…
You are along the route: COURAGE FROM FAITH. THE SITES OF MARTYRDOM
Via del Circo Massimo
Always open. Free entry.
The Circus Maximus is connected by legend to the very origins of Rome: on the occasion of the games in honour of the god Conso, the rape of the Sabine happened here, thus giving birth to life in the city itself.
Only under Julius Caesar was a real masonry building with spectator seating formed, a design passed to later buildings. In the arena, chariot races were held, during which seven laps around the central balustrade (spina) were made and at each end of the track was a column called a “meta”. The spine was richly decorated with statues and little temples and there were seven eggs and seven dolphins from which water flowed, used to count the laps of the race. The twelve carceres, the starting structure located on the short straight towards the Tiber, were equipped with a mechanism that allowed simultaneous opening.
To the spine, the Emperor Augustus added an ancient obelisk that had been specially transported from Egypt. Many centuries later, in 357, Emperor Constantius II erected a second Egyptian obelisk. Found in pieces in 1587, the two obelisks were restored and placed in the Piazza del Popolo and Piazza San Giovanni respectively, at the behest of Pope Sixtus V.
Picture by permission from Roma Capitale-Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali
Further reproduction prohibited