The Markets of Trajan: a trip in the heart of Imperial Rome

An archaeological complex of uniqueness in Rome, perhaps even worldwide, is known with the modern name of “The Markets of Trajan“, whose construction is due to the great Roman Emperor Trajan.

Trajan was an Emperor with extraordinary political and military capabilities. He was the first not Italian Emperor; he was Hispanic because he was born in Italica, an ancient city of the Spanish province. He was chosen for his skills and not just because Nerva adopted him. The Senate officially declared him as Optimus Princeps, the best ruler in the history.

He distinguished himself by being a man without being conditioned and he built great works to convince the people that he was a real “Italian” Emperor. As architect, he chose the greek Apollodorus, his trusted man who had been at his side during several campaigns.

Apollodorus built the bridges during the Dacian campaign and built the Trajan’s Forum, an extraordinary masterpiece that surpassed the other forums (there were already 5) in size. It was not only the biggest ones but also it was as big as all the others put together were, and for the Roman people entering the forum was like entering another world.

The Trajan’s Forum became much more than a public square, was the heart of ancient Rome, because the Emperor decided to give his people a center in which to develop business and trade. In this way, it was born the idea of “Markets of Trajan“, set into the side of Quirinal Hill and served to complete the Forum Of Trajan.

At first, between 107 and 110 AD, this complex filled the space that had been dug away at the base of the hill Trajan and only later, it was used for utilitarian purposes.

It was a revolutionary project, which constitutes a prototype of modern shopping centers. The market was built on different levels and from the highest ones the people could see all the others: a center divided into different sections arranged on different levels connected by stairs and corridors and there were five floors with nearly 150 stores.

The fifth floor was the floor dedicated to the poorer classes, where they  were distributed free rations of food and in lower floors there were the shops “tabernae”, where could be found every kind of delight coming from the four corners of the empire: rare spices, precious gems, precious fabrics. Not only that, it was a place where the ancient Roman could do business and relax, where they could eat and drink and where they could buy exotic objects.

Today visitors can walk along the main shopping street, the Via Biberatica, or through one of the complex’s corridors, along the rooms that once housed the tabernae. If we visit the remains of the complex, we can do an exciting walk in the heart the history.

Crossing the streets, seems that the mob circles as in the days of the time, it seems almost to see the faces of shoppers and traders and their negotiations.

Just few works among the many that remain of the ancient city can give a fantastic image of a past so alive and present.

  • Trajan's Market, Rome
  • Mercato_di_Traiano,_2014-11-08
  • Mercato_di_Traiano,_2014-11-08-4
  • Museo_dei_Fori_imperiali,_Mercati_di_Traiano-4-2
  • Museo_dei_Fori_imperiali,_Mercati_di_Traiano