Campus Martius

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Campus Martius

For the pioneer fortification at Marietta, Ohio, see Campus Martius (Ohio); for the park in Detroit, Michigan, see Campus Martius Park.

The Campus Martius was a publicly owned area of ancient Rome about 2 square kilometers in extent. In the Middle Ages, it was the most populous area of Rome. The IV rione of Rome, Campo Marzio, which covers a smaller section of the original area, bears the same name.


Before the founding of Rome, the Campus Martius was a low-lying plain enclosed on the west by a bend of the Tiber River near Tiber Island, on the east by the Quirinal Hill, and on the southeast by the Capitoline Hill.

According to the Augustan historian Livy, the Campus Martius was originally a field belonging to the family of Rome’s seventh and last king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. After the revolution that established the Roman Republic, the field was harvested, and the grain thrown into the Tiber where it settled and, along with accumulated sediment, formed islands in the centre of the river.

In the first centuries after the city’s founding, the area was still outside the Serivan Wall. The Campus was used for pasturing horses and sheep, and for military training activity of both the army and of private people who could use the training equipment the army had left. As such, it was dedicated to Mars, the Roman god of war, with an ancient alter and became closely linked to soldiers and the army. At first the field was often used by soldiers for purposes of training. Later, it was frequently the focus of triumphs, the celebrations of successful military campaigns.

Because at the time it was outside the city walls, the Campus Martius was a natural place for audience given to foreign ambassadors who could not enter the city, and foreign cults were housed in temples erected there.

In 221 BC, the Circus Flaminius was built