Monuments of Rome - Circus Maximus
According to ancient sources, the first circus used for chariot races in the valley between Palatine and Aventine was built by the Etruscan king Tarquinius Priscus, although similar races are mentioned as early as the time of Romulus.
Over time, the original wooden seats were replaced by masonry steps and the starting cages for the chariots (carceres) and the spina, i.e. the dividing wall of the track, were added. Seven bronze eggs and seven bronze dolphins were installed on it to count the laps of the quadrigas, and, at different times, two obelisks in 10 BC that ofRamesses II almost 24 metres high (transported to Piazza del Popolo in 1587) and in 357 A.D. the obelisk of Thutmosis III, more than 32 metres high (placed then by Pope Sixtus V at Piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano ). At the circus, expanded by Caesar , Augusto adds the pulvinar (imperial box or sacred area). The capacity of the building was 150,000 spectators, at least until the Neronian reconstruction (after the famous fire), which increased it to 250,000.
Later enlarged, it reaches a length of 600 metres and a width of about 200. Part of the curved southern side is currently preserved.
In 1931, near the north side, a brick building from the Imperial age was found (possibly the site of a court), which was transformed into a Mithraeum in the 3rd century A.D. (now in the basement of the former Pantanella pasta factory).