This large complex was built between 107 and 112 AD. The architect was Apollodorus of Damascus. The terrain was too small and irregular to be able to construct the forum and its adjacent market. Various monuments and buildings in the valley between the Capitoline and the Quirinal were demolished, but that still didn’t create sufficient room.
The significant modifications in the landscape allowed Apollodorus to construct a forum with a length of 300 metres and a width of 185 metres. This forum thus trumped all the previously built fora not just in size, but in splendour. The northwest of the Forum was closed off by the temple: Divus Trajan, but nothing of it remains.
A ridge between the Capitoline and the Quirinal that carried on through the valley was dug out. The height of the small ridge is still indicated by the column of Trajan, forty-two metres. A part of the Quirinal was dug out as well.
The excavated part of the Quirinal became the market of Trajan built in the shape of an exedra. This blocked the view of the peculiar excavation of this part of the Quirinal and conversely the market, consisting of multiple floors of tabernae (shops), was required as a counterweight for the Quirinal’s pressure.
“Thought to be the world’s oldest shopping mall, the arcades in Trajan’s Market are now believed by many to be administrative offices for Emperor Trajan. The shops and apartments were built in a multi-level structure and it is still possible to visit several of the levels. Highlights include delicate marble floors and the remains of a library.”
Cited from Wikipedia
Column of Trajan
“Trajan’s Column (Italian: Colonna Traiana, Latin: Columna Traiani) is a Roman triumphal column in Rome, Italy, that commemorates Roman emperor Trajan’s victory in the Dacian Wars. It was probably constructed under the supervision of the architect Apollodorus of Damascus at the order of the Roman Senate. It is located in Trajan’s Forum, north of the Roman Forum. Completed in AD 113, the freestanding column is most famous for its spiral bas relief, which depicts the wars between the Romans and Dacians (101–102 and 105–106). Its design has inspired numerous victory columns, both ancient and modern.
The structure is about 30 metres (98 feet) in height, 35 metres (115 feet) including its large pedestal. The shaft is made from a series of 20 colossal Carrara marble drums, each weighing about 32 tons, with a diameter of 3.7 metres (12.1 feet). The 190-metre (620-foot) frieze winds around the shaft 23 times. Inside the shaft, a spiral staircase of 185 steps provides access to a viewing deck at the top. The capital block of Trajan’s Column weighs 53.3 tons, and had to be lifted to a height of about 34 metres (112 feet).”
Cited from Wikipedia
The statue of Trajan later had to make room for the H. Petrus. The gold urn with the ashes of Trajan and his wife was kept in the pedestal. A spiral band of two hundred metres with sculpted reliefs was crafted along the column. It depicted the wars against the Dacians.
This idea was entirely novel, and originally very easy to see from the ground, but also from the vantage point of the two libraries.
Crosswise and directly behind the column and the libraries was the basilica Ulpia (map). Some columns still remain. The Ulpia had five aisles and two semi-round apses on the ends. The large dimensions are still obvious by looking at a two metre high Corinthian capital and a piece of column of two metres across, which are now behind the Trajan column, but were originally a part of the Ulpia.
In front of the Ulpia basilica there was an enclosed squared with colonnades with two exedras in the middle near the sides, with one them being the market of Trajan. The middle of the square held the cavalry statue of Trajan.
When emperor Constantine visits the Forum of Trajan in 356 and sees the statue, he calls out that he could never replicate this, but he could replicate the horse that Trajan mounted. To which the prince answered: “Then first build a stable.” When pope Gregory visits the forum around 500 AD. and witnesses the depictions on the column of Trajan, he gets so moved that he drops to his knees and prays to God to free the soul of the heathen Trajan from Hell. After returning to the St. Peter, the pope receives a vision that the soul of Trajan has indeed been freed by the Lord, but that he should refrain from praying for heathen souls. Another source claims Gregory was given the choice of three days of hellfire or pain and suffering on Earth. He chose the latter and his health never returned back to normal. Further east there was a triumphal arch with three passages, the entrance to the square.
Étienne Dupérac ‘Trajan’s forum’ 1575 Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Visscher ‘Trajan’s column’ 1681
Piranesi ‘Trajan’s column’ 1748-1778 Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Victor-Jean Nicolle ‘View of Trajan column’ 1754-1820
In the 1930s, Mussolini demolished the working class districts that arose centuries after Rome’s decline, to excavate the old imperial forums again. Mussolini commissioned the Via dei Fori Imperiali, straight through the imperial forums, of which a part is still beneath the road’s asphalt.