Forum Trajanum

Trajan's Forum
Location IV Templum Pacis
Built in 106–112 AD
Built by/for Emperor Trajan
Type of structure Imperial fora
Related Quirinal Hill, Capitoline Hill , Trajan's Column, Trajan's Market

Trajan's Forum (Latin: Forum Traiani) was the last of the Imperial fora to be constructed in ancient Rome.[1] The architect Apollodorus of Damascus oversaw its construction.


This forum was built on the order of the emperor Trajan with the spoils of war from the conquest of Dacia, which ended in 106.[1] The Fasti Ostienses state that the Forum was inaugurated in 112, while Trajan's Column was erected and then inaugurated in 113.

To build this monumental complex, extensive excavations were required: workers eliminated the sides of the Quirinal and Capitoline (Campidoglio) Hills, which closed the valley occupied by the Imperial forums toward the Campus Martius.

It is possible that the excavations were initiated under Emperor Domitian, while the project of the Forum was completely attributed to the architect Apollodorus of Damascus,[1] who also accompanied Emperor Trajan in the Dacian campaign.

During the time of the construction, several other projects took place: the construction of the Markets of Trajan,[1] and the renovation of the Caesar's Forum (where the Basilica Argentaria was built) and the Temple of Venus Genetrix.


The Forum was built from a vast stoa-lined piazza measuring 200 x 120 m with exedrae on two sides. The main entrance to the forum is on the southern side, a triumphal arch surmounted by a statue of Trajan in a six-horse chariot. The Basilica Ulpia lies at the north end of the piazza, which was cobbled with rectangular blocks of white marble and decorated by a large equestrian statue of Trajan. On either side of the piazza are markets, also housed by the exedrae.

North of the Basilica was a smaller piazza, with a temple dedicated to the deified Trajan on the far north side facing inwards. Directly north of the Basilica Ulpia on either side of the forum were two libraries, one housing Latin documents and the other Greek documents. Between the libraries was the 38 m Trajan's Column.[1]

In the mid-4th century, Constantius II, while visiting Rome, was amazed by the huge equestrian statue of Trajan and by the surrounding buildings:

But when he came to the Forum of Trajan, a construction unique under the heavens, as we believe, and admirable even in the unanimous opinion of the god, he stood fast in amazement, turning his attention to the gigantic complex about him, beggaring description and never again to be imitated by mortal men. (Ammianus XVI.10.15)[2]

The imperial visit and the landmarks of the forum were described by historian Ammianus Marcellinus.

In modern times only a section of the markets and the column of Trajan remain. A number of columns which historically formed the Basilica Ulpia remained on site, and have been re-erected. The construction of the Via dei Fori Imperiali in 1933 covered a number of these columns, which remain visible under the arches on which the road runs.

This modern street and its heavy motor vehicle traffic are quickly destroying this Forum and all other buildings and monuments over and through which it runs, with constant vibrations, smoke and acidic vapors (sulfur and carbonic). All halfhearted attempts to deconstruct and remove this Fascist era road (Via dei Fori Imperiali) have failed for the past 45 years.

Post-Roman history

In the mid-9th century, the marble cobble blocks of the piazza were systematically taken for re-use, because of the good quality of the lime. At the same time, the pavement was restored in wrought as a sign that the piazza was still in use as a public space.

In modern times the forum has become well known for its large population of feral cats.[3]

Trajan's Column on the far left.

See also



External links

  • Roma – I Fori Imperiali (1995-2008). The Forum of Trajan. Excavations & Related studies (1998-2008). Prof. James. E. Packer, (ed. it.), Il Foro di Traiano a Roma. Breve studio dei monumenti (Roma 2001).
  • Rome, Archaeology News: The Reappearance of the Temple of Trajan & The Athenaeum in Rome (September 2011).

Coordinates: 41°53′44″N 12°29′09″E / 41.89556°N 12.48583°E / 41.89556; 12.48583

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