The Stadium of Domitian – or Stadio di Domiziano, as the locals say, may not be one of the classic tourist attractions, but one of these many interesting historic sites in Rome. At this place, you can explore the foundations of a historic Roman stadium. When I read about it, I felt to visit this place during my Four Countries, Four Trains tour in August 2020. Here is my review.
Stadium of Domitian – Location & Admission
The former stadium and the museum is located at the Piazza Navona, right South of the Tiber. Within short walking distance, you can have a boat trip on the Tiber River or stroll to Trevi Fountain. There is a bus connection to the Zanardelli stop, which is operated by numerous bus lines. Due to the thin network in Rome, this museum has no connection to the metro network.
During my visit, you could only visit the standard route, which only contains the curve of the stadium. The museum gives a forty minutes visiting time at the museum, which is quite realistic. Adult admission for that is 8.50 EUR. Including the stands (Tribuna), the visit is some 60 minutes and has an admission of 13 EUR. The museum is opening daily 10:00 to 19:00hrs, Saturday until 20:00.
Stadium of Domitian – Some Facts
The Stadium of Domitian was built around 80 AD. The capacity was roughly between 15,000 and 20,000 people. Thereby, the stadium came with the classical U shape and a length of some 200 to 250 metres, the most far away seats some 30 meters above ground. The stadium was used for athletic competition, but during a fire in AD 217, it even hosted some gladiator contests. You can nowadays still estimate the size of the stadium from outside very well – as the area floor and the lower arcades are quite close to the size of nowadays Piazza Navona.
Stadium of Domitian – The Visit
Included in the admission, there was an audio guide. It worked in a way which is not that frequently used at tourist attractions: you receive the pen-shaped guide as well as a map of the museum. If you use the pen and point on certain spots on the map, this activates the commentary, which is of course available in all major touristic languages as well as Italian.
The entrance is on street level, but you have to walk down a bunch of stairs to finally be on original arena level and see the excavations. The museum is really nicely structured. You do not only learn about the stadium itself, but also the competitions held there and about life and games in Rome in general. Thereby, the audio guide is just a bit too much on the too long side for me – which likely means it is quite perfect for most visitors.
Some parts of the museum are quite general, others are close to the exhibits you see. I also loved to have a model of the stadium to explain the size and the structure better. Very few parts of the excavation can also be seen on street level – but I would definitely opt to visit this small museum if you are around.
Stadium of Domitian – Services
The staff was very friendly and spoke English very well. The entrance on street level features a shop with souvenirs related to the place as well as general Rome literature and memorabilia.
Stadium of Domitian – My View
It is too much to call the Stadium of Domitian a must-visit when in Rome. But definitely, you have a good time, it is a good exhibition and it is much more relaxed than boxing with the crowds through the Colosseum. I absolutely enjoyed it – and if you are in that part of the Italian capital, I would say it would be a shame if you don’t go on that historic stadium tour.
Traveling in Italy
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