Piazza Navona and Underground Tour of Dominitian Stadium: The Navona square sits over the area of the Stadium, which was built by Domitian before 86 d. C. , for athletics competitions of Greek origin (running, wrestling, boxing), the agones, very appreciated by Domitian, but not much by Roman people, who liked violent and bloody performances. Some scholars believe it was the most elegant place for shows of the ancient world.
The stadium measured 275 meters long by 106 wide. Chariot races, similar to those at Circus Maximus, were held utilizing its oval design. The difference between Stadium and Circus is that the track of a Circus, to allow chariot races, was divided in two by a "spina" a central up level path decorated with obelisks, and needed at least 500m in length (like the Circus Maximus); the Stadium, in contrast, was a large arena without any division (Piazza Navona). The square was sometimes flooded in the summer and used for aquatic games and staged naval battles.
In the 15th century, over the ruins of the then decrepit stadium, it was paved over to create Piazza Navona. The stadium remained in operation until the fifth century. With our tour, you will learn how after the renovation of a building located at number 62, the ancient stadium was discovered. During the works an ambulatory of the Stadium was found: underground rooms of 350 square meters whose spaces were reused at the beginning of the dark ages. Two main entrances are located in the middle of the long sides. The one used for our tour is in the middle of the curved side, with a colonnade of portasanta marble in front of it. This area, discovered in the years 1936-1938 and visited only with special permission, is the best preserved part of the stadium, and it is now part of the tour leaded by our private licensed archaeologist guide.
The cavea of the stadium included two lines of steps superimposed: according to a calculation made on the basis of the length of the lines of steps, the seats for the spectators are 30.000. Archaeologists have found 3,500 fragments of marbles of “pavonazzetto" , African " antique yellow " or greek “cipollino” taken from imperial monuments. Explore the Eternal City from a completely different point of view: you will discover a new Rome, as you’ve never expected.
Meeting/pick-up point: Piazza della Rotonda / in front of Hotel del Senato.
Duration: 2 hours.
Start/opening time: at 10:30am and 3pm.