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Ancient Rome - The Imperial Forums





 Ancient Rome - The Imperial Forums

The Imperial Forums

 The Column of Trajan in Piazza Venezia marks the start of the Imperial Forums

The Imperial  Forums of Rome were a series of public squares, buildings, temples and statuary that marked a trend away from the republic and towards the cult of personality and the power of the Roman emperor. 

Each of these forums was designed to exploit, enhance and exhibit the power of the then reigning emperor.  As a consequence, the Imperial forums were the centers of politics, commerce and religion beginning in the 1st century BC, and continued in this role  through the 1st century AD.

Most of the Imperial Forums have decayed to ruins, so you will need to use your imagination to reconstruct the past.  The Imperial Forums include  the Forum of Trajan, the  Market of Trajan,  the Forum of Caesar,  the Forum of Augustus, the Forum of Nerva and the Temple of Peace (Emperor Vespasian’s contribution).


Excavations continue today as archaeologists labor to expose the area's long hidden secrets and this archaeological work may preclude entry to some sites by other than pre-arranged tour groups. There are numerous sites to examine, but the best include the Forum of Caesar, the Temple of Peace (Forum of Vespasian) and the Forum of Trajan (the best preserved of all of the forums). For more information follow this link 

Trajan's Column is worth a look.   This stately column commemorated Emperor Trajan's victory in Rome's wars with the Dacians in the 2nd century AD.  The Dacians were  a Germanic tribe that occupied an area north of the Danube river in present-day Romania and their lands were eventually subjugated by Trajan and made part of the Roman Empire. 

The column was the central focus of Trajan’s Forum,  remnants of which  can be seen to the southeast of Trajan's Column in the photograph below.

        The remains of Trajan's Column and Forum

The column is hollow and its core contains a spiral stairway to the top. The column's exterior is inscribed with over 2000 scenes from the Dacian Wars, although most are too small to be seen from ground level. Trajan’s statue atop the column was eventually replaced by a statue of St. Peter, which remains there today.  Just to the right of Trajan's column are the stone columns from part of Trajan's Forum, which is the newest (early 2nd century AD) and largest of the Imperial Forums.

One of the highlights of Trajan's Forum is Trajan's Market 

The Market of Trajan (Mercati di Traiano) was relatively well preserved and  has been excellently  restored.  In 2007 the Museo dei Fori Imperiali (Imperial Forum Museum  ) opened  in one of the original buildings from the Market complex.  The The impressive facade of Trajan's Marketmuseum is dedicated to the architecture of the Imperial Forums and contains a number of outstanding pieces that were found in the Imperial Forums. The buildings known as Trajan’s Market were so named because they were originally thought to be a market complex.  More recent research has asserted that the complex was a bureaucratic center.

      The Forum of Augustus and the Temple of Mars Ultor

      Forum of Caesar and Temple of Venus Genatrix

If you are interested in more details on the architecture of the Imperial Forums, you can see a recreation (model) and other fascinating details at this website associated with the University of Chicago .

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