The Biggest Roman Hippodrome in The World
Over there in South Lebanon, there’s an ancient city, it’s a semi-island. They call it the “bride of the Mediterranean sea”. And it contains the largest Roman hippodrome ever found.
After a 15 minutes walk from the city harbor and a three-bay monumental arch and one the largest Roman hippodrome ever built can be found.
All date from the 2nd century A.D. to the 6th century A.D. The necropolis, excavated in 1962, yielded-hundreds of ornate stone and marble sarcophagi of the Roman and Byzantine periods. Foundations of a Byzantine church can also be seen. The archway stands astride a Roman road that led into the ancient city. Alongside the road are the remains of the aqueduct that assured the city its water supply.
South of the necropolis is the partially reconstructed Roman hippodrome excavated in 1967.
The 480-meter structure seated twenty thousand spectators who gathered to watch the death-defying sport of chariot racing. Each end of the course was marked by still existing stone turning posts (metae). Charioteers had to make this circuit seven times. Rounding the metae at top speed was the most dangerous part of the race and often produced spectacular spills.
Although primarily meant for chariot races, the hippodrome was also used for other types of sport, and it is likely that at least some of the events of the Tyrian Games were celebrated at this place. It may have been the place where, during the Diocletianic persecution, five Egyptian Christians were tortured to death.