Now a huge basin of dusty grass, the Circo Massimo was ancient Rome’s largest chariot racetrack, a 250,000-seater capable of holding up to a quarter of the city’s population. The 600m track circled a wooden dividing island with ornate lap indicators and Egyptian obelisks.
At its southern end, a small segment of the original stadium was recently opened to the public after six years of restoration.
Here you can explore the corridors that led to the tiered seating, as well as shops, taverns, even latrines. Overlooking everything is the Torre della Moletta, a medieval tower built in the 12th century.
Chariot races were held at the Circo as far back as the 4th century BC, but it wasn’t until Trajan rebuilt it after the AD 64 fire that it reached its maximum grandeur.