Trajan’s Forum and Markets (and the Forum of Augustus) are located near the Forum Romanum
in the oldest part of Rome. Trajan’s Forum was the last of the Imperial Forums, and was built by
Apollodorus of Damascus, the most famed architect of his time. Trajan’s Market has long been
thought of as the world’s oldest shopping mall, but recently scholars have considered the lack
of easy access to large-scale transportation of goods and decided that it must have been an
administrative complex for Trajan’s government. This page shows exterior details of Trajan’s
Market, parts of Trajan’s Forum, and the Forum of Augustus at the east end of Trajan’s Forum.

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Trajan’s Market panoramic view

Medieval Cellars

Great Hemicycle (Trajan’s Market)

Trajan and Trajan’s Column

Forum of Augustus

Forum of Nerva


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Trajan’s Forum Market 6673
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On the left, the Great Hemicycle of Trajan’s Market, and on the right the Casa dei Cavalieri di Rodi.
Casa dei Cavalieri di Rodi is the House of the Knights of Rhodes (Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes and Malta).
It is the world’s oldest surviving order of chivalry, and although they were ejected from the Middle East
at the end of the last Crusade, they operated from Rhodes and later from Malta, and even after
Napoleon had removed them from Malta in 1798, they are still granted sovereignty status by
international law, and the United Nations had given them permanent observer status.



Trajan’s Forum Market 6675
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The full view showing the foreground excavations. In medieval times, people built houses on
the site of Trajan’s Forum, and recent excavations have unearthed medieval cellars with ancient
Roman pavement  underneath. These cellars are shown in the foreground of this image.

In the distance, left center, is the Torre delle Milizie, Rome’s primary medieval tower.
The Tower of the Militia is a 50 meter tall square tower dating from about 1200. It was built
using antique construction materials scavenged from early Roman edifices (as per Raphael).
The tower was damaged in a major earthquake in 1348, causing it to lean to the right.


Trajan’s Forum Medieval Cellars 6668
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Detail of the medieval cellars, with the
ancient Roman pavement in the foreground.


Trajan’s Market at night 3836
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The Great Hemicycle of Trajan’s Market
and the Torre delle Milizie floodlit at night.


Trajan’s Market Great Hemicycle 6666
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Trajan’s Market was built in 100-110 AD by Apollodorus of Damascus, who excavated the Quirinal Hill
to provide space for the enormous complex. It is built from concrete faced with bricks and has a concrete
vaulted roof raised on piers. The upper levels were built in the Middle Ages along with Torre delle Milizie.


Trajan’s Market Great Hemicycle 6665
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Looking into the openings at the end of the Hemicycle. You can see the end of the vaulted roof structure.
The complex was open to the air and light, allowing a breeze in to combat the heat of the Roman summers.


Trajan’s Market Great Hemicycle 6667
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The medieval apartments rising above the upper level of Trajan’s Market.

Trajan’s Forum and Market were built with funds gained as war spoils from the Dacian Wars.


Trajan 3754
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Bronze statue of Trajan standing on Via dei Fori Imperiali, a modern copy of an ancient
Roman statue. The base states that it was erected in the 11th year of Fascist rule (1933-34).


Trajan’s Column detail crops 6636 M
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Detail crops of Trajan’s Column taken from three images (see the Churches section,
under Nome di Maria; and Scenery, Victor Emmanuel II Monument for the full images).

The statue at the top was originally supposed to be a bird (probably an eagle), but after
construction a statue of Trajan was placed there, which disappeared in the Middle Ages.
In 1587, Pope Sixtus V had the bronze statue of St. Peter mounted on the column.


Trajan’s Column
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This image is provided for your personal use only.
It depicts a highly detailed section of Trajan’s Column
with bas-reliefs of Trajan’s Dacian Wars (101-02, 105-06).

Trajan’s Column is roughly 30 meters (98 feet) tall, hollow in the interior, with a spiral staircase (185 steps) leading to a viewing platform at the top. The platform uses the 53 ton capital block as its floor (34 meters above ground level).

The scenes on the spiraling frieze show the Roman Army engaged with Dacians and in other military activities, such as construction. There are detailed images of ships and ancient armaments as well as numerous figures in battle dress. Trajan also appears in several scenes.

The helical stairway was built from 19 blocks of marble, making a full turn every 14 steps (rather than the usual 12 or 16 steps, requiring complex geometry). Before the use in the column, spiral stairs were rarely seen, but afterwards, the space-saving character of the design was used throughout the Empire. The design of the column itself also inspired many similar columns, including the column Napoleon erected in Place Vendome, the Column of Marcus Aurelius, the Column of Arcadius, and others.

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Temple of Mars Ultor Forum of Augustus 6686
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After the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, Octavian (his adopted son) was named his
heir and successor, and formed a triumvirate with Marc Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus
(Caesar’s Master of the Horse, effectively his deputy). During the Battle of Phillipi in 42 BC, the
battle which finally defeated the assassins of Caesar, Octavian vowed to create a temple to the
Roman God of War, Mars. He became the first Emperor of Rome in 27 BC under the name of
Augustus, and created the Forum of Augustus and the temple of Mars Ultor (Mars Avenger).

One of the major features of the Forum of Augustus, (just east of the site of Trajan’s Forum) is
the enormous fireproof wall at the back, laid out in opus quadratum (square blocks) made of
lava stone and tuff. Disastrous fires were an occasional problem in Rome (as elsewhere), and
Octavian wanted the forum to be protected. It was built on a larger scale than the previous Forum
of Caesar, but it had to be cut back from the plans when Octavian had trouble acquiring the land he
needed from some recalcitrant owners. At the far right of the image is the remaining part of a massive
exedra (arched architectural structure) which was removed to allow the formation of the Forum of Nerva,
details of the rear of the exedra are shown two images down, and the Forum of Nerva is detailed below).


Temple of Mars Ultor Forum of Augustus detail 6678c
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Detail of the Temple of Mars Ultor and the Arco dei Pantani (Arch of Panatus) to the right
of the columns (which acted as the entrance to the forum, through the firewall, along with the
three-arch entrance seen on the other side of the temple). A Monastery was built on the podium
of the temple in the 9th century (St. Basil’s). All that remains now of the massive entablature are the
four columns seen above and the architrave above them, along with some fragmentary columns.


Temple of Mars Ultor Forum of Augustus 3678
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A view across the Forum of Augustus shot from the site of the Temple of Minerva in
the Forum of Nerva (the pile of stone in the center foreground is all that remains of the
Temple of Minerva). In the foreground right is the rear of the remaining part of the exedra
at the southeast of the Forum of Augustus, which was removed to form the Forum of Nerva,
and the face of the left portion of the Porticus Absidata, the large exedra northeast of the
Temple of Minerva containing the massive entrance arch leading to the populated
area called the Suburra, behind the firewall. Note the construction details.


Peristyle Forum of Nerva 6689
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Built by Domitian as a transitory forum between the Suburra (the densely populated area beyond the firewall) and the Forum Romanum, it was officially opened in 97 AD by his successor (Nerva), thus the name. The volcanic tuff was once covered with marble. A peristyle is a columned portico. This is sometimes called “the Colonnace”, or open colonnade. The peristyle is a Greek term for an ancient Egyptian colonnade.


Peristyle Forum of Nerva 6681
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The frieze on the entablature details the myth of Arachne, the mortal weaver who boasted that her skills were greater than those of Minerva (whose temple was next to the peristyle). The goddess set up a contest, and was envious of the tapestry  Arachne created (and offended by her subject, the loves of the gods). Minerva slashed the tapestry and Arachne’s face, and then turned her into a spider (arachne = spider in Greek).


Peristyle Forum of Nerva detail 6681
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Detail of the tale of Arachne on the frieze, and the statue of Minerva on the attic.


Peristyle Forum of Nerva detail 6689 M
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Further detail of the entablature frieze with the tale of Arachne.

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