- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
- Italian Phrases
Mobile AppDownload Fodor's City Guide App for FREE!
Foro di Traiano (Forum of Trajan)
Foro di Traiano (Forum of Trajan) Review
Of all the Imperial Fora complexes, Trajan's was the grandest and most imposing, a veritable city unto itself. Designed by architect Apollodorus of Damascus, it comprised a vast basilica (at the time of writing closed for restoration), two libraries, and a colonnade laid out around the square, all once covered with rich marble ornamentation. Adjoining the forum were the Mercati Traianei (Trajan's markets), a huge, multilevel brick complex of shops, walkways, and terraces that was essentially an ancient shopping mall. The Museo dei Fori Imperiali (Imperial Forums Museum) opened in 2007, taking advantage of the forum's soaring, vaulted spaces to showcase archaeological fragments and sculptures while presenting a video re-creation of the original complex. In addition, the series of terraced rooms offers an impressive overview of the entire forum.
To build a complex of this magnitude, Apollodorus and his patron clearly had to have great confidence, not to mention almost unlimited means, and cheap labor at their disposal, this readily provided by captives from Trajans' Dacian wars. Formerly thought to be the Roman equivalent of a multipurpose commercial center, with shops, taverns, and depots, the site is now believed to be more of an administrative complex for storing and regulating Rome's enormous food supplies. They also contained two semicircular lecture halls, one at either end, which were likely associated with the libraries in Trajan's Forum. The markets' architectural centerpiece is the enormous curved wall, or hexedra, that shores up the side of the Quirinal Hill exposed by Apollodorus's gangs of laborers. Covered galleries and streets were constructed at various levels, following the hexedra's curves and giving the complex a strikingly modern appearance.
As you enter the markets, a large, vaulted hall stands in front of you. Two stories of shops or offices rise up on either side. It's thought that they were an administrative center for food handouts to the city's poor. Head for the flight of steps at the far end that leads down to Via Biberatica. (Bibere is Latin for "to drink," and the shops that open onto the street are believed to have been taverns.) Then head back to the three tiers of shops/offices that line the upper levels of the great hexedra and look out over the remains of the forum. Empty and bare today, the cubicles were once ancient Rome's busiest market stalls. Though it seems to be part of the market, the Torre delle Milizie (Tower of the Militia), the tall brick tower, which is a prominent feature of Rome's skyline, was built in the early 1200s.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Fodor's Go List 2014: Where we are going in 2014
- World Cup Fever: Start planning your trip to Brazil!
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
After we left Urbino, we drove to Fabriano. Read more
We've rented out our house for another three months and have hit the road. Read more
Will the Eurail Global Pass the only pass I need to travel in Europe. Read more
· News & Features
American Airlines and US Airways formally completed their merger this morning, leaving four major players... Read more
Oceania Cruises has got something unique in store: a world cruise that embarks in the summertime instead... Read more
Whether its Spicy Alligator Fritters or Broiled Lobster Maine Lobster that you're after, Carnival's new... Read more