The Trajan’s Markets in Rome

The Trajan’s Markets and Trajan the Roman Emperor

Trajan, a significant Roman ruler, reigned from 98 to 117 AD. His government in Rome is symbolized by special actions to improve the standards of living of Roman citizens. However, his actual presence was on the battlefield, in fact Trajan is mostly remembered as a conqueror. His attitude for war and expansion was balanced with the increasing number of public projects such as road systems, baths and markets.

As an emperor who was concerned with both good government and the public welfare, he instituted an excellent domestic policy. He cared for the children of the poor, restored the dilapidated road system, he built new bridges, aqueducts, public baths, and a modern port at Ostia. Lastly, he continued his predecessor’s policy of undoing much of the harm done by Domitian by freeing prisoners and recalling exiles.

The Trajan’s markets, history and architecture

Trajan’s Markets is a historical complex of the roman period where shops and offices were located. It was build during the Roman Empire between 107 AD and 110 AD by the same emperor responsible for the Trajan’s Column, Emperor Trajan. He commissioned Apollodorus of Damascus to plan the market complex. The complex also served as a forum and it completes the Forum of Trajan. The upper level of Trajan’s Market was used for offices and ran by the officials in charge of the entire market. The market itself allowed merchants from around the nation to sell their products. These shops were called “tabernae” and there were more than 150 in the entire complex.

The complex was set into the side of Quirinal Hill and served to complete the Forum of Trajan. Apollodorus built a monumental, semi-circular facade bordered by a row of columns. At both ends were smaller exedras that were covered by a half dome. Also in the lower part of the market was the so-called Great Hall, 32 meters long and 8 meters high. The hall was possibly used for concerts, speeches or education. The roof of the market was meant to create light and space, it was fashioned as an arched concrete vault that sat on piers to allow sunlight to seep through into the shops and protect the shoppers from the weather.

The Trajan's Markets, where they are located and how to visit the complex

The Markets of Trajan gives us a good insight of Roman urban architecture, since it is one of the few high-rise structures that have been preserved. Despite many years of neglect and damages (as the ones created by earthquake of 1349) the complex is still in relatively good condition. In 1574 the Convent of Santa Caterina da Siena was built on the upper part of Trajan's Markets but it was demolished between 1911 and 1914. Part of the tower of the convent it is still visible at the upper part of the market, in the middle.  Restoration of the complex was carried out under the Fascist regime from 1926 until 1934.

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. To get inside the market it is necessary to get a ticket that will permit you to explore the area of the market included in the ticket.
The Trajan's Markets are located along Via dei Fori Imperiali in Rome, not far from the Colosseum. Inside this colossal complex, visitors can also admire the Imperial Forum Museum.

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