Trajan's Market (Rome)

Trojan's Market (Rome)



Description of the Trajan's Market

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Mercati Traianei, Via IV Novembre
Tel. 06- 679 00 48
Busses: 64, 70, 170
Open: 9am- 5pm Tue- Sun
Closed: Jan 1, May 1, Dec 25


The Trajan's Markets constitute an extensive complex of Roman buildings in the city of Rome, on the slopes of the Quirinal hill. Since 2007 they have housed the "Museum of the Imperial Fora".

The complex, which originally extended beyond the limits of the current archaeological area, in areas now occupied by modern palaces, was mainly intended as the seat of administrative activities connected to the Imperial Forums, and only to a limited extent to commercial activities, which perhaps they took place in the open spaces on the sides of the internal streets.

The complex was built at the same time as the Forum of Trajan, at the beginning of the second century, to occupy and support the cut of the slopes of the Quirinal hill, and is separated from the Forum by a paved road. It takes up the semicircular shape of the exedra of the Trajan forum and is divided into six levels.

The dates of the brick stamps seem to indicate that the construction mostly dates back to the reign of Trajan and perhaps it can be attributed to his architect, Apollodorus of Damascus, although it is possible that the project was already conceived under Domitian, to whose time it could be attributed at least the beginning of the excavation works.

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Description of the parts of the complex

The buildings are separated from each other by an ancient path which in the late age took the name of via Biberatica, which runs halfway up the slope of the hill. The lower part, starting from the level of the forum, includes the buildings of the "Grande hemicycle", articulated on three floors and with two "Test rooms" at the ends, and the "Piccolo hemicycle", with rooms again on three floors. Two stairs at the ends of the Great Hemicycle allow you to reach the upper floors and the Via Biberatica.

Upstream from the road, the "central body" rises, with tabernae at the level of the road and three other floors of internal rooms, some of which are particularly well-finished and elaborate.

To the north the via Biberatica folds, flanked upstream by the complex of the "Great hall": the large central space, overlooked by a series of rooms on two levels, constitutes the current entrance to the monument from via Quattro Novembre. From here you can access both via Biberatica and, by means of passages opened in post-ancient times, to the rooms of the central body.

Towards the south, via Biberatica reconnects with the current via della Salita del Grillo, which retraces an ancient route. On the sides of this southern section of the street there is on one side a block with poorly preserved rooms and partly remodeled in later periods; on the opposite side there is the upper floor of a further block that divides it from another ancient path, coming directly from the floor of the forum and which is reconnected by stairs with the Via della Salita del Grillo.

From the central section of via Biberatica, a staircase allows access to the recently restored "via della Torre" and the "Giardino delle Milizie", behind the central body, with other Roman structures on which the Torre delle Milizie was built. 13th century.


Construction details

The "Mercati di Traiano" constitute an articulated architectural complex which, using the ductile construction technique of opus latericium (Roman concrete covered with a brick facing), exploits all the available spaces, obtained by cutting the slopes of the hill, inserting rooms of it varies in shape at the different levels of the monument. This articulation makes it possible to pass, with ample breath, from the curvilinear arrangement of the exedra behind the porticoes of the Forum of Trajan, to the rectilinear arrangement of the surrounding urban fabric.

There are numerous internal connections between the various levels (stairs, creases, etc.), giving a particularly organic and coordinated arrangement to a complex built in such complex soil conditions.

The brick finish is also remarkably treated in a decorative sense: in particular on the facade of the "Great hemicycle" an order of pilasters frames the windows on the second floor, surmounted by alternately triangular pediments, or arched and flanked by two triangular half gables ("broken tympanum "). This decorative party, always in sight and designed by numerous Renaissance artists, is made with specially shaped bricks (which are also found in the string courses in other parts of the complex which are particularly well-finished). Earlier traces of it can be found in Hellenistic architecture (Palazzo delle Colonne di Tolemaide in Cyrenaica) and in some second style paintings.

The open spaces on the external or internal paths had a "modular" structure: covered with barrel vaults, they were equipped with a large door with threshold, architrave and jambs in travertine, surmounted by a small square window that could give light to a mezzanine wooden interior. This is the typical form of commercial environments (tabernae), normally present on the ground floor of Roman insulae: it is these environments that at the time of the unveiling suggested a commercial function for the complex and led to the modern name of "Markets" being given to it. Trajan.

Throughout the complex, the rooms were mainly covered by masonry vaults, from the simpler shapes of the barrel vaults, to the semi-domes that cover the larger rooms, to the complex roofing system of the "Great Hall", with six cross vaults supported on enlarged pillars with travertine shelves and flanked on the upper floor by rooms that contained the lateral thrusts, connected to the structure of the vault by arches that allowed passage into the corridor in front.

The pavements widely use, especially in the uncovered parts, the opus spicatum (cutting bricks arranged in a herringbone pattern), to which a second floor layer in black monochrome mosaic of small flint tiles was often superimposed: the overlapping of two layers contributed to ensure the waterproofing of the rooms below.



The commercial function, previously attributed to the complex, had been correlated with Trajan's concerns about the precarious food situation of the city: the so-called Trajan's Markets had been interpreted as the final point of a gigantic supply system of the capital, which was also ensured with the construction of the port of Trajan in Fiumicino.

The presence of numerous rooms in the form of tabernae, in particular along the external paths, however, is not necessarily an indication of a commercial function of the complex: even the paved streets that make up the external paths are in fact accessible mainly by stairs that overcome the differences in height, and therefore they were not passable by the wagons necessary for the transport of goods.

Rather, the monument was supposed to constitute a sort of "multifunctional center", where public activities, above all of an administrative nature, took place. The distribution of the rooms, their connections and the articulation of the internal paths had to depend on the different functions of the rooms, such as offices or archives, in close connection with the forensic complex.

The procurator Fori Divi Traiani, mentioned in an inscription recently found, and probably in charge of the administration and management of the monumental complex, must have been located in the rooms of the "central body".


Trajan's Markets - Museum of the Imperial Fora

Trajan's Markets Museo dei Fori Imperiali is part of the system of Musei in Comune, the civic museums of Rome Capital.

Inaugurated in autumn 2007, it aims to illustrate the ancient architecture of the Imperial Forums and their architectural and sculptural decoration. The recompositions of some scores of ancient buildings are presented, made with original fragments, casts and modular stone additions, according to the museographic choice of reversibility, which aim to restore the perception of their original three-dimensionality to the visitor and to make them appreciate the richness figurative programs, tools of imperial propaganda.

The exhibition itinerary begins in the "Great Hall" with the introduction to the area of ​​the Imperial Forums, each of which is represented by a particularly significant piece. On the upper level of the "Great Hall" are the sections of the museum dedicated to the Forum of Caesar and the temple of Mars Ultor in the Forum of Augustus ("Memory of the ancient"). On the same floor, the museum continues in the "central body" with the section dedicated to the Forum of Augustus, also illustrating its function as a "model" for the forums of the Roman provincial capitals.

The rooms in the upper part of the Trajan's Markets, which house the museum, underwent major structural and conservative restorations in the years 2005-2007. The museum will be completed with the section on the Trajan's Forum, which will be housed in the rooms of the "Testata classrooms", in direct contact with the ancient remains, after the necessary restorations.

The museum uses a mixed communication system, with traditional and video panels that use multimedia technologies, with the aim of re-proposing the connection between the materials on display, the ancient appearance of the buildings to which they belonged and the remains of them preserved in the archaeological areas. .