Circus Maximus is the largest building for shows of all time. It is 600 meters long and 140 meters wide. The stadium Circus Maximus was widely used for the, at that time, extremely popular chariot racing. The stadium is situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills, and could hold 150,000 spectators. It became the model for other stadiums in the Roman Empire. The site is now a public park.
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The first stables were built in 329 BC. Around the year 50 BC, Julius Caesar expanded the Circus Maximus, and the track reached a maximum size of 600 meters long and 225 meters wide. The first stone grandstands were built in the time of Emperor Claudius. During the great fire of Rome in 64 AD, all the stands were destroyed and had to be rebuilt. The new stone stands were lined with marble. In 81 AD, an arch with three doorways was built, and this was the access to the Circus. It stood on the eastern side and was a triumphal arch in honor of Emperor Titus.
After another big fire, the circus was restored again, and then became three stories high with arcades. The Circus Maximus had also reached its maximum size, but it has been restored, or modified with some regularity. The Circus Maximus was in use up until 549 AD, but then fell into disrepair. The stones and marbles were then used to build churches and palaces. The lower levels, which were prone to flooding, were buried under soil and accumulated debris, leaving the original track now six meters below the present surface. Eventually, there was almost nothing left of the large building. The industrial buildings that were built on the racetrack, were demolished in the 20th century because Benito Mussolini wanted to use the historic site for exhibitions and events.
The Circus Maximus was the largest meeting point for Rome, with public games associated with Roman religious festivals. Many festivities were held annually. The events ranged from half a day to several days, with plays, gladiator fights, horse and chariot races, religious ceremonies and athletics.
At present, the Circus Maximus operates as a large park in the center of town, which is often used for concerts and other gatherings.
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