Tarragona Roman Circus | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Tarragona Roman Circus

Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain

History Hit

24 Nov 2020

About Tarragona Roman Circus

Tarragona Roman Circus (Circo Romano de Tarragona) is an ancient racing arena, probably built under the Emperor Domitian in the first century AD, which still contains some astonishing subterranean Roman tunnels.

When Tarragona Roman Circus was constructed it would have been able to accommodate up to 30,000 spectators and was just one of a series of impressive public buildings serving the Roman settlement of Tarraco. It was in use until the fifth century AD, when it was abandoned and slowly fell to ruin.

Today, though little of the original structure survives, visitors can still get an insight into the original scale and setting of this ancient chariot racetrack. Most of the circus is now buried under the more modern buildings which were built atop the ruins, largely in the 19th century, though the small exposed area is actually quite well preserved.

At one end of the Circus complex stands the Praetorium, a Roman tower which once formed the corner of the large Roman forum. This forum was connected to the circus complex below via a series of passageways and tunnels, which were also used to service the games held at the circus. Miraculously, some of these underground tunnels have actually survived and are now open to the public – making a visit to this site a genuinely impressive experience.

Tarragona Roman Circus is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco.

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