Part of the 4th-century Villa of Maxentius complex along the Via Appia Antica in the Roman countryside, the Circus of Maxentius is the best preserved chariot racetrack in Rome and second in size only to the Circus Maximus.
Located between miles I and II of Rome's ancient Appian Way, the villa complex, which was commissioned by the Emperor Maxentius, is home the ruins of the imperial palace and the Mausoleo di Romolo (Tomb of Romulus). The highlight, though, is the Circus of Maxentius—also known as the Circus Maxentius, Circo di Massenzio, or, for many years, the Circus of Caracalla. In its heyday, the public stadium held 10,000 spectators; the obelisk that decorates Piazza Navona today once marked its center. Explore the site on a Vespa tour of ancient Rome, a guided bike ride, or independently.
Things to Know Before You Go
- This site is particularly interesting for ancient Roman history buffs.
- The Circus of Maxentius is an outdoor archaeological site, so wear a hat and sunscreen if you’re visiting in summer.
- Most of the site consists of uneven, overgrown terrain; it’s difficult to navigate with a wheelchair or stroller.
- For older kids, a bike ride through along the Appian Way is a fun break from seeing Rome’s historic center on foot.
How to Get There
The Circus of Maxentius is located in the Villa of Maxentius at Via Appia Antica 153 between the Basilica of San Sebastiano and the tomb of Caecilia Metella inside the Appian Way Regional Park (Parco Regionale Appia Antica). You can reach it on bike or Vespa from center of Rome.
When to Get There
The archaeological ruins are part of an open-air park, so visit on a clear day with mild temperatures.
The circus, where games, political events, religious functions, and funerals were held, was the primary gathering place for ancient Romans. Italy's most important Roman circuses are located in Rome, Milan, Aquileia, and Marino.