A complex of five grandly conceived squares flanked with colonnades and temples, the Fori Imperiali (Imperial Fora) formed the magnificent monumental core of ancient Rome, together with the original Roman Forum. Excavations at the start of the 21st century have revealed more of the Imperial Fora than seen in nearly a thousand years.
From Piazza del Colosseo, head northwest on Via dei Fori Imperiali toward Piazza Venezia. Now that the road has closed to private traffic, it's a bit less chaotic and more pleasant for pedestrians—thanks to a 2013 decree by Rome's new mayor, it is buses and taxis only, much to the annoyance of many locals. (It also closes to all traffic every Sunday.) On the walls to your left, maps in marble and bronze put up by Benito Mussolini show the extent of the Roman Republic and Empire. The dictator's own dreams of empire led him to construct this avenue, cutting brutally through the Imperial Fora, so that he would have a suitable venue for parades celebrating
his expected military triumphs. Among the Fori Imperiali along the avenue you can see the Foro di Cesare (Forum of Caesar) and the Foro di Augusto (Forum of Augustus). The grandest of all the Imperial Fora was the Foro di Traiano (Forum of Trajan), with its huge semicircular Mercati Traianei and the Colonna di Traiano (Trajan's Column). You can walk through part of Trajan's Markets on the new promenade, which opened in 2013 after a long restoration, or at the new Museo dei Fori Imperiali, which presents the Imperial Forums and shows how they would have been used, through both ancient fragments and artifacts and modern multimedia. On very rare occasions, guided tours of the Imperial Forums may be offered (check with the tourist office). The fora also are illuminated at night.