"Circo Maximo Experience" is a cutting-edge project for the enhancement in augmented and virtual reality of one of the most significant places in the history of the city, the Circus Maximus, the largest show building of antiquity and one of the largest in all times (600 m long and 140 m wide).
For the first time in such a large outdoor area, these interactive technologies are implemented through the use of special viewers (Zeiss VR One Plus) combined with iPhone-type smartphones and stereo earphones, in an immersive tour of the Circus Maximus in all its historical phases: from the first and essential construction in wood, to the glories of the Imperial Age, and from the Middle Ages to the first decades of the 20th century.
Visitors will be able to experience a unique and evocative itinerary and fully immerse themselves in the history of the archaeological site reconstructed both from the architectural and landscape point of view. It will therefore be possible to admire the development of the ancient Valle Murcia with its buildings, walk in the Circus among the shops of the time, witness an exciting race of quadrigae between shouts of incitement and overturns of wagons, and face the impressive Arch of Titus reproduced in natural size.
The experience will be usable at different times of the day: the application, in fact, was designed to work independently of the daily lighting variations.
The reconstructions, all carried out using the scientific method, and appropriately calibrated to work in real time on a mobile device, allow an immediate and accurate alignment of the 3D models to the reference context, for a fruition of the experience, both in virtual and augmented reality in stereoscopic mode.
The visit includes 8 stops:
THE VALLEY FLOOR OF THE CIRCUS IN THE ARCHAIC PERIOD
The immersive experience begins with the presentation of the Valle Murcia located between the Palatine and Aventine hills. Meeting and exchange place between populations, as well as home to many cults (Murcia, Cerere and Consus) celebrated with festivals, equestrian competitions and propitiatory rites for the fertility of the fields, witnessed the legendary Ratto delle Sabine. In the Middle Ages, it underwent some transformations, above all, by the Tarquini, the last kings of Rome, who had the first rows of wooden seats built. With the development of the city and the greater importance acquired by public events, the racing space was enriched with functional elements such as the Càrceres, the starting stalls of the chariots, and the stands that gradually expanded to give life to what would become the most impressive spectacle building ever built.
THE CIRCUS FROM THE 1ST CENTURY BC TO THE 1ST CENTURY AD
The journey continues the first interventions operated by Julius Caesar and Augustus who, for the first time, conceived the Circus as a monumental structure separated from the other buildings of the Valley. The Circus was internally divided into three sectors: the lower one in masonry and the other two in wood. The presence of wooden seats in most of the steps often favored the flare up of devastating fires, such as that of 64 AD which originated from one of the shops in the Circus. At the beginning of the first century, Traiano rebuilt the building entirely in masonry. The structures that are still visible today belong to this phase.
THE CIRCUS IN THE IMPERIAL PERIOD
In the Imperial period, Circus Maximus reached the peak of its splendor. The building was enriched with various elements loaded with symbolism and religious meanings linked to the agricultural festivities of the origins and to the cycle of the seasons. In addition to the chariot races, which were the most important and most frequent events taking place in the Circus, it was also possible to watch other types of shows, such as hunting trips with exotic animals.
THE SEATING TIERS (CAVEA)
On one side of the Circus were the Càrceres (the starting stalls of the chariots), while the other three sides constituted the Càvea, the tiers. The spectators took place in different sectors based on their social class. With its articulated structure, the Circus was certainly a unique monument of its kind, an immense scenic machine created to amaze.
THE ARCH OF TITUS
Dedicated in 81 AD from the Senate and the Roman people to the Emperor Flavio to celebrate the conquest of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the imposing Arc will be visible in all its ancient splendor. Passing through it was a fundamental part of the triumphal processions in honor of the generals and the victorious emperors. The procession started from Campo Marzio, entered in the Circus and headed to the temple of Giove Capitolino, on the Capitoline Hill. Symbol of triumph and victory, about 20 meters high and with three arches, the Arch was surmounted by a large bronze quadriga led by the emperor.
THE SHOPS (TABERNAE)
In the outer belt of the Circus were several shops called tabernae, very popular not only during the shows. Various commercial activities were carried out and it was possible to find the most disparate goods to satisfy every need.
THE CIRCUS IN THE MIDDLE AGES AND IN MODERN TIMES
The transformations that involved the area from the Middle Ages to the first half of the Twentieth century.
The last races in the Circus took place in the first half of the 6th century AD, then the area was filled with sediments and from the 8th century it was crossed by several waterways.
The construction of the Torre della Moletta, a medieval defensive building, dates back to the 12th century.
In the 1600s, the slopes of the Aventine hill were occupied by the Jewish Cemetery, whose cypresses, even today, indicate its ancient location.
In 1854, the Anglo-Roman Gas Lighting Company built the first gas production plant for public lighting. The factory occupied about two thirds of the area.
In the first decades of the 1900s, the Gazometers were transferred and the entire area was reclaimed: between 1928 and 1936 some sectors of the ancient Circus were dug, and partly restored, but the presence of groundwater did not allow the completion of the work.
Beginning in 1936, the area of the Circus Maximus was granted to the National Fascist Party, which began to use it as an exhibition space. Impressive pavilions were built, as well as a real bathhouse consisting of three swimming pools, dismantled in 1940 due to the beginning of the Second World War.
"A DAY AT THE CIRCUS"
The last stop of the visit sees an exciting race of quadrigae as the audience cheers and the chariots overturn.
In the last decades and up to the present day the Circus has been subject to numerous measures so that it could gain back its ancient dignity; the area has been restored and new archaeological investigations have allowed an ever more in-depth knowledge of the history of this incredible monument, which, for centuries, has been the emblem of the greatness of Rome.
- 7 historical epochs analyzed: the study and the reconstructions have been extended to the different historical phases of the Circus. The modeling of the elements and their configurations crosses over 2000 years of history.
- For the implementation of the application, more than 250,000 lines of code have been written. They manage the different aspects of the experience: from the location to the tracking, to displaying contents. Among other technologies, the software also incorporates the ARkit Augmented Reality libraries from Apple.
- 3 versions of the Circus modeled: Archaic and Republican Age, the Circus from the 1st century B.C. to the first century d.C., the Circus of the Imperial Age, to continue with the reconstructions of subsequent uses which, starting in the Middle Ages, crossed the industrial age and reached the Second World War.
- Up to 80 minutes the total duration of the visit: the narration accompanies the visitors along the route that can be enjoyed over a period of time ranging from 40 to 80 minutes.
- More than 1800 3D elements realized: the project is strongly characterized by the use of 3D technologies and, to support the narration, numerous elements and details have been modeled, some of which will not escape the most attentive observer.
- More than 2 billion polygons managed: the application manages, in a single execution and in an extremely efficient way, the billions of polygons of the reconstruction models, processing a huge amount of data without much effort.
- 5-10 cm is the accuracy of the 3D maps: the technology used to reconstruct the existing references in the area is extremely accurate and reaches levels of precision that bring to light interesting data on the original structure of the Circus.
- 8 original soundtracks: to support the visual content of the experience and the uniqueness of its technology, 8 original soundtracks have been produced with the aim of making “Circo Maximo Experience” even more special and compelling.
The itinerary is also available in English, French, German, Spanish and Russian.
“Circo Maximo Experience”, together with "Journeys into Ancient Rome", started in 2014 with the Forum of Augustus and expanded in 2015 with the Forum of Ceasar, and with "The Ara as it was" started in 2016 at the Ara Pacis Museum, aims to enhance and enrich the archaeological heritage of the Capital of antiquity.
Il ONE Zeiss VR Zeiss VR ONE offers an unprecedented viewing experience thanks to Zeiss precision lenses and the 5.2- inch smartphone display, which gives you breath-taking graphics and fascinating videos in spearheading mobile resolution. The visual quality is that of the best front-row seat in a theatre.
Zeiss VR devices are specifically designed to be used with glasses, enabling users to enjoy the virtual reality function in complete comfort. For a correct use of the headset, please see the “Health and Safety Warnings”.
From Tuesday through Sunday
from 9.30 – 16.30 in winter time;
from 9.30 – 19.00 in summer time
24th and 31st December: 9.30 – 14.00
Last admission: one hour before closing time.
Closed every Mondays, 25th December, 1st January, 1st May
Please note: rain may cause visits to be suspended – please check in advance