A Tourist in Rome - Trajan's Forum

Location:41.89504, 12.48525 Via dei Fori Imperiali, across from the Victor Emmanuel Monument
Time:about 20 minutes
Hours:Viewable at any time, well lit at night

Trajan's Forum was the last of the five Imperial Fora to be built. It is approximately rectangular, running from Trajan's Column to the edge of the Forum of Augustus, and from Trajan's Market to Via dei Fori Imperiali. Part is also under Via dei Fori Imperiali, and Via Alessandrina also runs above it. That is the light-blue and green parts of Trajan's Forum Complex shown below. The green part is the Basilica Ulpia, the dark blue is Trajan's Column, the two brown rectangles are two libraries which no longer exist (one Latin, one Greek), and the purple region is the Temple of the Divine Trajan, which also no longer exists (though huge columns buried underground attest to its existence here).


It can be viewed free of charge at any time from Via dei Fori Imperiali and Via Alessandrina, and is well-lit at night. Some relics from Trajan's Forum are on display in the Museum of Imperial Fora.

The Basilica Ulpia in Trajan's Forum, with Trajan's Column behind it
See all Trajan's Forum photos.
Trajan's Forum
See all Trajan's Forum photos.

The spoils of the Dacian Wars which ended in 106 AD paid for the forum. It required removal of a saddle of land that united the Capitoline Hill (across the street, behind Caesar's Forum) to the Quirinal Hill (behind Trajan's Market and the Forum of Augustus). Once the land was removed, the new edge of the Quirinal Hill needed to be shored-up, which was done by the arch-shaped "retaining wall" known as Trajan's Market, located behind the forum. The forum was completed in 112 AD and dedicated by Trajan, whose statue on Via dei Fori Imperiali in front of the Forum is shown in the 2nd photo below. The base identifies the statue as Trajan, with the inscription Anno XI (year 11) A Fascibvus Renovatis (of the Fascist Era), since this statue was erected in 1933, eleven years after Mussolini seized power on October 28, 1922. One year later Trajan's Column was dedicated. Unlike the earlier Imperial Fora, this forum was not designed as a single unit surrounding a temple. Instead, a large colonnaded square with an exedra on each side led from the Forum of Augustus to the great Basilica Ulpia (1st photo below) that crossed the new forum. This also had an exedra at each end. The Basilica Ulpia (named after Trajan whose full name was Marcus Ulpius Traianus) was a government building. It had no religious function but rather was dedicated to the administration of justice and commerce, like the Basilica Julia and Basilica Aemilia in the Roman Forum. Behind the Basilica Ulpia was a library, neatly divided in two by Trajan's Column, one side for Greek literature and the other for Latin. Behind these, to complete the forum was a great hemicycle where, after the Emperor's death, Hadrian constructed a Temple of Divine Trajan to Trajan's memory. Other monuments added were a triumphal arch entrance at the end close to Augustus' Forum and a great bronze equestrian statue. Though once the most marvellous of all the fori, these days Trajan's Forum is badly preserved and somewhat confusing to make sense of. Trajan's Column, Trajan's Market and even the Basilica Ulpia are easy to see and make sense of, but Trajan's Forum is in rubble, and hard to piece together into anything meaningful. The destruction of Trajan's Forum apparently began before the fall of the Roman Empire, because statues of eight Dacian soldiers were removed from Trajan's Forum for use on the Arch of Constantine.

Trajan's Forum
See all Trajan's Forum photos.
Statue of Trajan on Via dei Fori Imperiali, in front of Trajan's Forum and Trajan's Market
See all Trajan photos.
See also:
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