The terraces cut out of the Quirinal hillsides to accommodate the Forum of Trajan were shored up by a complex of brick buildings called the Trajan’s Market (In italian Mercati di Traiano). Today, these impressive red-brick ruins with high vaults form a boundary between the area of the forums and the slope of Quirinal hill towards Via Quattro Novembre.
Trajan’s Markets are the conventional name of a series of buildings laid out on a number of levels along the lowest slopes of the Quirinal and abutting onto Trajan’s Forum. The project was Trajan’s attempt to alleviate the tax burden by supplying inexpensive goods and to relieve social tension by distributing imperial donations.
The semi-circular complex held more than 150 individual stores. All kinds of goods were bought and sold here: fruit and vegetables, expensive jewellery and perfume, grain, spices, fish, oil, and wine. The market complex also consisted of the state storehouses, which provided food for the poor at moderate prices or even free.
Their facade was a great exedra with a semi-circular chamber at either end, perhaps used as schoolrooms or lecture theatres. There is reliable evidence that at least in late imperial times the forum was used for courses of higher studies with access to the two libraries nearby.
The middle of the complex housed shops (tabernae): eleven on the ground floor and ten on the first floor, facing onto a passageway. The shops on the second floor, however, faced in the opposite direction and opened onto a street running behind the Markets, the Via Biberatica. The name, recorded only in the Middle Ages, was derived from the Latin noun biber (drink) and probably indicates that some of the shops were taverns and sold refreshments.
The Markets of Trajan were also occupied by retailers, but their principal use must have been as wholesale warehouses dealing in provisions and run by the state. They thus formed the last link in a chain of distribution that also included Trajan’s important new port at Fiumicino.
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Distance to the Colosseum
Trajan’s Market set in the center of Roman Forum, 0,9 km from (10 min walk) from Colosseum.