Trajan’s Market (in Italian: Mercati di Traiano) was a complex of buildings (mostly offices, but also shops) in the times of the Roman Empire. It was located on a vast area on the slopes of the Quirinal Hill in Rome, much vaster than can presently be seen, since modern buildings have been constructed on top of its grounds. Its top terrace is mostly taken up by a big rectangular building, possibly a warehouse, which today is used as the Museo dei Fori Imperiali.
Trajan’s Markets Rome
Address, opening hours and admission
The address of the Museo dei Fori Imperiali ai Mercati di Traiano is Via Quattro Novembre 144 – Rome. Tel.: +39 060608 (this is not the number if the museum, but the general information number in Rome). Opening hours: From 09.00 till 19.30. Closed: 1 January, 1 May, 25 December. Admission: 13 Euros. Discount: 11 Euros. Roma Pass valid. Rome residents have free admission on the first Sunday of the month.
History and description
The dates on some of the bricks indicate that the Mercati di Traiano were built in the 2nd century AD, in all likelihood by Apollodorus of Damascus.
The complex was built at the same time as Trajan’s Forum, from which it was separated by a paved street. It follows the semi-circular shape of the Forum‘s exedra. The upper levels were taken up by the offices from where the market was managed.
One main reason for building the market was to protect the Forum from landslides. This was also why the 6 terraces were created and especially why the semi-circular shape was maintained: This way the risk of a landslide was diminished.
The lower levels were taken up by 150 tabernae, shops selling all kinds of groceries. Customers had to buy tokens first and with these they could purchase the goods they wanted. The tabernae were usually decorated with mosaics depicting the wares sold in each particular shop.
There was also a Great Hall, which was 8 meters high and 4 times as long. It was covered by a dome reminiscent of the one of the Pantheon (but built at an earlier date).
It is partly thanks to the Fascists that such a big part of Trajan’s Markets can still be admired, for it was they who started restoring the complex three years after the Convent of Santa Caterina da Siena that had been built on top of it had been destroyed in 1914.
Museo dei Fori Imperiali
The museum was inaugurated in 2007. It is the first museum dedicated to ancient architecture. The exhibition consists of ruins found in the Fori Imperiali along with reconstructions of (parts of) the architectural decorations to the buildings that stood here.
Visitors have the chance to visit the hallways that used to host the tavernae and also the main shopping street, which was called the Via Biberatica, “biber” being a Latin slang word for “beverage”.
In the main hallway, each Forum is introduced through the main finds made there.
There are also temporary exhibitions.