Rome bans Ben Hur filming at ancient site

Rome bans Ben Hur filming at ancient site
Actor Charlton Heston in the 1959 original Ben Hur. Photo: MGM/Wikimedia Commons
Filmmakers behind the remake of Oscar-winning Ben Hur have seen plans to shoot at Circus Maximus, Rome’s ancient chariot racing grounds, scuppered, according to Italian media reports.

Creators of the new Ben Hur film, due for release next year, reportedly made a request in December to use the ancient ground.

The idea to transform Circus Maximus into a film set for a number of weeks was however rejected for "technical reasons", people close to the matter told Il Messaggero.

The remake of the 1959 classic will now see the famous chariot race scene – one of cinema’s most celebrated sequences – filmed at a purpose-built Circus Maximus at Rome’s Cinecittà studios.

Use of Circus Maximus, which lies close to the Roman Forum and Colosseum, has come under debate recently following a Rolling Stones concert at the site last July.

Photo: Peter Clarke

Rome charged the rock band just €8,000 to hire out the site, a move which sparked criticism and prompted city hall to subsequently up the fee to a maximum of €200,000.

Heritage experts also raised concerns about the decision to allow 65,000 concert-goers onto Circus Maximus, described as a “very fragile” area by the office of archaeological supervisors.

READ MORE: Rolling Stones gig sparks heritage concerns

Watch a chariot racing clip from the original Ben Hur: 

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