Imperial Forums - Forum of Trajan

Imperial Forums - Forum of Trajan (8)

The Forum of Trajan is the biggest attraction of the Imperial Forums. A majestic complex planned by Apollodorus of Damascus at the behest of Emperor Trajan, it was also one of the last forums to be built, in 112, but without doubt the most impressive.

Your visit will probably start by Trajan’s Markets, considered in Antiquity as one of the great marvels of the classical world. It is a semicircular structure of several floors that housed around 150 shops and offices. It is believed that in the shops on the lower floor dried fruits, flowers and vegetables were sold, while the shops on the upper floor sold wine and oil. The latter deduction is based on the discovery of several large earthenware jars on the site.

The main street you will see crossing the market is called Via Biberatica, and it is believed that it was full of taverns. In the market, the main vestibule was made up of 12 shops, and was the place where a free ration of wheat was given out in order to combat famine amongst the people. 

It seems that the shops would open early in the morning and close at midday, and the most luxurious were decorated with mosaics that represented the products on sale inside them. 

If you go towards an alleyway that is below the Via Alessandrina, you will reach the Forum. Here you will come across the Basilica Ulpia, of which the columns of the centre of the excavated area are conserved. This basilica was very richly decorated and was considered as one of the most lavish in Rome.  

Behind the church you will find a small courtyard where the well-known Trajan Column is placed. This elegant marble column was placed there in 113 AD, and commemorates the two victories that led Trajan to conquer Dacia. The column is over 30 metres high, and you will see its relief work in spirals tell the story of these battles, starting with the images of the Roman legions’ preparations and ending with the expulsion of the Dacians from their lands. 

You should know that inside this magnificent column is a spiral stairway lit up by 40 small windows. This stairway, however, is closed to the public. If you look up towards the top of the monument you will see a sculpture that represents Saint Peter. This statue was placed here in the 16th century replacing another one of the emperor Trajan. 

In fact, the remains of this emperor are placed in a small gold urn in the hollow base of the column. It is said that his wife, Plotina, is also to be found in the same place. 

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