Category - Imperial Forums

In the first century BC, Julius Caesar (d. 44 BC) decided to construct a new forum north of the old one.


Four emperors followed his example: first Augustus (27 BC-AD 14), then Vespasian (69-79), Nerva (96-98), and Trajan (98-1 17) each built a forum on one side or the other of the present Via dei Fori Imperiali, striving to outdo one another in magnificence, raising colonnades, libraries, and basilicas – each more sumptuous than their predecessors’, and all in a profusion of marble. In less than a century a new city was born, its wealth reflecting the golden age of imperial Rome.


Trajan produced the most impressive of the forums, and the best preserved today: the Forum Trajanum. Work on the chosen site involved the levelling of a plain and the cutting back of a spur of the Quirinal, all at enormous expense. But Trajan had no need to count the cost: the plunder brought back from his victorious campaigns in Dacia (present-day Romania) financed the entire complex. His market, comprising 150 shops, dominated the forum: the complex was concave in shape and occupied terraces cut into the hillside.