Rome’s ancient “shopping center” known as Trajan’s Markets is well preserved and worth a visit as it gives the understanding of the daily lives of Roman citizens. The multifunctional complex was built as a complement to the Forum of Trajan and was a hub of activity for more than two centuries.
Trajan’s Markets, a large complex of warehouses, shops and offices where the Romans would gather to purchase goods and conduct business, was built between 107 and 110 AD by Emperor Trajan’s favorite architect, Apollodorus of Damascus. Apollodorus was integral in designing the famous forum which bears the emperor’s name and borders the market.
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. The upper levels of this semi-circular brick and concrete market – which at one section had up to six stories – were used for offices from where the whole market place was managed. Adjacent to these offices was a large warehouse.
The Markets of Trajan give us a good insight in Roman urban architecture, since it is one of the few high-rise structures that have been preserved. Despite many years of neglect and damages sustained during the earthquake of 1349, the complex is still in relatively good condition. In 1574 the Convent of Santa Caterina da Siena was built over part of Trajan’s Markets but it was demolished between 1911 and 1914. 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.
Location: Via IV Novembre, Roman Forum, Rome
Nearby sights: Trajan’s Forum, Imperial Forums, Trajan’s Column, Victor Emmanuel II Monument
How to get there: Subway: Colosseo (B)
Tel.: +39 06 0608
Working hours: 9.30 – 19.30
Nearby hotels: Traiano Hotel, Nerva Boutique Hotel, Easydomus Ibernesi, The Inn at the Roman Forum