Trajan's Forum

Rome, Italy

Trajan's Forum was the last of the Imperial fora to be constructed in ancient Rome. It was built on the order of the emperor Trajan with the spoils of war from the conquest of Dacia, which ended in 106. The Forum was inaugurated in 112, while Trajan's Column was erected and then inaugurated in 113.

The Forum consisted of a vast portico-lined piazza measuring 300 metres long and 185 metres wide exedrae on two sides. The main entrance to the forum lay on the southern side, via a triumphal arch surmounted by a statue of Trajan in a six-horse chariot. The Basilica Ulpia lies at the north end of the piazza, which was cobbled with rectangular blocks of white marble and decorated by a large equestrian statue of Trajan. On either side of the piazza are markets, also housed by the exedrae.

North of the Basilica was a smaller piazza, with a temple dedicated to the deified Trajan on the far north side facing inwards. The position of - and very existence of - the temple dedicated to the deified Trajan is a matter of hotly contested debate among archaeologists, particularly clear in the ongoing debate between James E. Packer and Roberto Meneghini. Directly north of the Basilica Ulpia on either side of the forum were two libraries, one housing Latin documents and the other Greek documents. Between the libraries stood the 38-metre Trajan's Column.

In the mid-9th century, the marble cobble blocks of the piazza were systematically taken for re-use, because of the good quality of the lime. At the same time, the pavement was restored in wrought as a sign that the piazza was still in use as a public space.

In modern times only a section of the markets and the column of Trajan remain. A number of columns which historically formed the Basilica Ulpia remained on site, and have been re-erected. Today Trajan's forum has become well known for its large population of feral cats.

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