Trajan & Imperial Forums, Rome
Standing nearly 100 feet tall at the end of what remains of Trajan’s Forum is the column in honor of the same emperor – Trajan’s Column. Imagine wrapping a 656 foot long picture around a very tall tree – that is what you basically have with this column. It is an artistic marvel as the picture is really a sculpted marble frieze that winds up the entire length of the column.
The frieze contains more than 2,500 people intricately carved in the relief along with horses, buildings, trees, and other images. It commemorates Trajan’s military victories during the Dacian campaigns in the early 2nd century. This frieze took about four years to make.
As you look at the column, you can see holes in it – that is because there are actually steps the wind up through the middle of the column, although it is closed to visitors. At the very top of the column is a statue of St. Peter, who replaced Trajan in 1588.
You can view the column for free near Trajan’s Forum – just across the street from the Victor Emmanuel Monument and near the Roman Forum and Capitoline Hill. While you can’t get really close to the column, you are close enough to see some of the details of the frieze which makes this column such a fascinating piece of Roman art.
While the Foro Romano is on a combined ticket with the Colosseum and the Palatine, the Fori Imperiali have a separate admission charge. However, they lie of either side of (and beneath) the Via dei Fori Imperiali, and if you are on a budget (and/or pressed for time), it is possible to see a great deal of the remains from the road. The Foro di Augusto and the Foro di Traiano are particularly visible, with huge colomns and walls still standing, almost to the height of the road.
If you do decide to enter the Imperial Forum, it is best to go on Sunday, when the road is closed to traffic and you can wander freely between the monuments.
The second link below shows a map of the fora, with a modern street map overlaid.
From the spirals of the Trajan column we can follow all the details of the invasion of Dacia (presently Romania) but we are left ignorant of the reason of this war: money !!!
Rome was importing everything, had important military expenses and lacked precious metals for coinage. In modern terms we would say that Rome suffered an important trade deficit what lead to a currency drainage. Emperor Nero decreased the amount of silver in the "denarius" and the gold in the "aureus" coins. More coins were produced but the debasement of the coinage produced a search and hoarding of the good "money" what increased the monetary problems of Rome.
Present travellers from overseas complaining about the low value of their money will understand from this that money devaluation existed already two thousand years ago. Nothing new under the sun.
As emperor Trajan was not only a good military commander but also a good administrator he aimed at restoring the financial and monetary situation of Rome.
Invading the rich Dacia where king Decebale showed hostility to Rome seemed a good opportunity.
Trajan came back to Rome in 106 A.D. with war booty of 165 tons of gold and 300 tons of silver! That solved the monetary problems of Rome for some years. Not surprising that Trajan was called "Optimus Princeps" best of princes.
These forums were built after the city outgrew it's original forums. They are on the North side of Via Fori Imperiali. They were built by the emperor Trajan in AD 112. There is an admission fee to go down into the ruins, however almost all of it is visible from the street level so imho it's a waste of money to pay the entrance fee.
Among the best pictures one can take in Rome are the two churches with dome just behind the Trajan's column. My photos are on an afternoon in February with the sun already low.
On the left stands Santa Maria di Loreto from the 16th c. from architect Antonio da Sangallo the younger. The dome with lantern was by Jacopo del Duca.
The church on the right called Santissimo Nome di Maria (Holly Name of Maria), with a similar dome was built two centuries later by the French architect Antoine Derizet.
They are often called twin churches but are not unique in that function; there are also twin churches at the Piazza del Popolo but from the same architect Carlo Rainaldi in the same period.
Visit is normally from 9 - 13 and 16 - 18 h.
The Roman emperor Trajan was an interesting fellow. Born into non patrician family in Hispania Baetica, modern day Andalucia (Spain.)
Under Trajan, who was emperor from 98-117 AD, the Roman Empire grew to its largest size. He conquered the Nabiteans, the culture that built Petra in Jordan. He brought great riches to Rome from his conquest of the Dacians (present day Romania) and their gold mines.
He is thought of as one of the Good Emperors of Rome. He was called a virtous pagan as he lived before the Christian era.
Trajan's Column, in the center of Trajan's Forum celebrates Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars. Erected about 113 AD the column is 30 meters high (98 ft) and 3.7 meters wide (11 ft)
The most impressive thing about this is not so much its mere size and presence, really, the reliefs on the column itself are quite amazing (and amazingly well kept.) Trajan's ashes were buried at the foot of the column after his death in 117.
Sadly Mussolini buit a road - the Via Del Fori - down the middle of the forum. As well as covering over various ancient remains, this split the forum in two. If you walk along the Via Del Fori from the colloseum the imperial forums are on the right.
Trajan's Column is a Roman triumphal column, which commemorates Roman emperor Trajan's victory in the Dacian Wars.
It was probably constructed under the supervision of the architect Apollodorus of Damascus at the order of the Roman Senate. It is located in Trajan's Forum, built near the Quirinal Hill, north of the Roman Forum. Completed in AD 113, the freestanding column is most famous for its spiral bas relief, that artistically describes the epic wars between the Romans and Dacians (101–102 and 105–106).
Its design has inspired numerous victory columns, both ancient and modern.
Fori Imperiali (the Imperial Squares) consist of a series of monumental squares constructed over the centuries, between 46 B.C. and 113 A.D. In Roman times Forum wasn't just a big open space in the city centre, Forum was lifestyle aswell as it is in todays Italy and in the whole of Mediterraneans. Thanks to the mild climate conditions Mediterraneas are used to spend most of the day out of their homes, no matter if summer or winter.
There is wide city street connecting the Colosseo and Piazza Venezia and is called Via dei Fori Imperiali. It is vivid place full of life, charming and "unkooked" at the same time. Romans loved it, new Romans love it too aswell as the visitors and tourists. No need to be said here; "Be Roman when in Rome".
The first period of the Republic dates from 510 to 87 B.C., from expulsion of Tarquinius to the Dictatorship of Sulla, while the second is 87 to 30 B.C., from Sulla to Augustus. The important years and events are as following:
- 496, the Latins and the Tarquins declared war against the Republic but were defeated at Lake Regillus,
- 477 to 396, wars with Veii and Etruscans. Veii was taken by Camillus after 10 years siege,
- 390, the Gauls led by Brennus won a remarkable victory over Rome after which they sacked and plundered the city. They eventually returned to their own land and Rome was gradually rebuilt, from 343 to 290,
- 264 to 146, the Punic Wars which culminated in the destruction of Carthage enabling Rome to become the leading naval power in the Mediterranean,
- 146, the conquest of Greece,
- 60 to 53, the first Triumvirate by Caesar, Pompey and Crassus,
- 58, Caesar's campaigns in Gaul and Britain,
- 48, Pompey was defeated at Pharsalus, while Caesar assasinated during a Senate Meeting,
- 43, the Second Triumvirate by Octavian, Anthony and Lepidus,
- 31, Octavian (future Emperor called Augustus) defeated Anthony and Cleopatra remaining the sole ruler of Rome.
The Emperor M. Ulpius Trajan was born in Italica, a place in todays Spain. He is best known for the expansion of the Empire to the east, beyond Dacia (Rumenia today). His oponent was the Dacian Prince Decebalus, a true military genius who imposed an ignominious peace upon the Roman emperor Domitian.
In 101 A.D. Trajan took the Dacian capital by force and and imposed extremely hard conditions which Decebalus didn't want to endure. Four years later there was a new battle and Dacians fought desperately, but their army was destroyed. The heroic prince committed suicide while Trajan returned to Rome laden with treasure.
In honour of the splendid victory Trajan decided to built a Forum that would surpass all other city squares in splendor and scale. Trajan entrusted the project to the great architect Apollodorus of Damascus. Apollodorus designed splendid square, named after the Emperor, which soon became the most admired place in the city.
The Column, which symbolizing the victory over Dacians, after 19 centuries was returned to its original majesty and splendor by careful restoration. The ashes of the emperor were once set into the base of the column and his statue stood on top. The column consists of 19 blocks of marble and spiral staircase which leads to the top. The band of figures spiral around the column, documenting the arms, art and costumes of the Romans and Dacians.
This medieval tower 50 m high, at the extremity of the Quirinal hill, just behind the Mercati Traiano is one of the remarkable landmarks of Rome.
The tower with a base of 10,50 x 9,50 m was initially built entirely using the tufelli technique between 1200 and 1250 under Pope Innocent III of the Conti family. At a later date, between 1250 and 1280, it was faced in the bricks still visible today. The tower has an inclination to the North-East of 1,36°. (That explains the problems with my photos; I thought it was the Frascati I had been drinking at noon!). Calculations made during the restoration works in the nineties predict that the inclination will continue with 1° over the next 600 years. So no panic.
The Torre delle Milizie was the main building of a castle erected in the upper part of the Trajan Markets known at the end of the 13th c. as the "Castello delle Milizie" There was a third floor on the tower but this was destroyed by the earthquake of 1348.
The tower belonged to the family Annibaldi and at one time to Pope Bonifacio VIII Caetani. Under the Caetani the tower was reinforced and became one of the strongest fortresses of Rome and could be compared with Castel St. Angelo.
In the 15th c. the tower returned to the Conti family and became part of the Covent of St. Catharine which was demolished in the begin of the 20th c. and the tower became a national monument.
By the garden at the back of the Trajan Market museum one can come at the feet of the tower but the inside visit is not possible.
It has been said that this was the tower from where Nero looked at the terrible fire of Rome in 64 BC. but this was shown to be wrong. The tower is from the Middle Ages.
If you visit the Roman Forum or the general Imperial Fora you will walk on via dei Fori Imperiali that was built in 1932 by Mussolini. It’s a 6 lane highway that connects Colosseum and Capitol with long side pavements that are usually full of tourists that want to visit the area. It looks much better when they stop traffic and it’s car free like on Sundays (pic 1). We stopped many times to check the numerous statues along the way (pic 2)
The Imperial forums were very important spots for the ancient Rome as they were the public square (fora in Italian) where politics/economy was running. Of course at the first this was taking place inside the Forum but when the lawers become too many the emperors started to built new forum, some of them added some arches and Vespasian added a stadium (ehm, sorry I meant the Colosseum) for sport events like lion hunting :) We didn’t spend much time on them because most of them are in the guide books but there’s no much to see when there.
Forum of Caesar was inaugurated in 56BC, you can see a small part of it as big part of it is under via dei Fori Imperiali. Temple of Venus is still visible though(ok, 3 columns of it) from via dei Fori Imperiali.
Forum of Augustus was inaugurated in 2BC, the most important building was the temple of Mars Ultor. Many centuries later (at 1200) the Knights of Rhodes used the ruins of temple to build their palaces! That’s why we can only see 4 columns left from the temple.
Forum of Vespasian was inaugurated in 75AD. Nothing left to see today, the most important structure was the temple of Peace, that’s why may refer to the forum as the Forum of Peace.
Forum of Nerva was started to built by Domitian but completed by Nerva. Again, we cant really see much of it as via dei Fori Imperiali cuts over it.
Finally Forum of Trajan (pic 3). It was built in 113AD, and it is obviously the largest and best preserved among the others. You can visit the site and see (including a museum) some of the structures and buildings like the Trajans Column (38metres high, made by greek marble) and imagine the area that was full of shops and offices. It is open daily 9.00-19.00 (closed on Mondays), the entrance fee is €11 (entrance from Via IV Novembre 94)
Rome's second Imperial Forum, the Forum of Augustus, was inaugurated in the year 2 BC, a few decades after the completion of the Forum of Julius Caesar. The Forum of Augustus celebrates Emperor Augustus' victory over the assassins of Caesar, Brutus and Cassius, and contains the Temple of Mars the Avenger (il Tempio di Marte Ultore). Although much of this Forum is still buried under Via dei Fori Imperiali and Via Alessandrina, a good portion of the Temple is visible, albeit in ruins. The steps leading up to the temple are still intact, as well as a few standing columns (see pictures). The attached drawing shows the temple during its glory days.
This forum, built according to the plans of Rabirio, connected the bigger forums, Trajan's and Augustus'.
Domitian had it built and dedicated the temple to Minerva. But his successor, Nerva, dedicated it to himself.