Imperial Forums

Ancient Rome

The forums of Trajan, Augustus, Nerva and Caesar are known collectively as the Imperial Forums. They were largely buried when Mussolini bulldozed Via dei Fori Imperiali through the area in 1933, but excavations have since unearthed much of them. The standout sights are the Mercati di Traiano and the landmark Colonna Traiana.

Little recognisable remains of the Foro di Traiano, except for some pillars from the Basilica Ulpia and the Colonna Traiana, whose minutely detailed reliefs celebrate Trajan's military victories over the Dacians (from modern-day Romania).

To the southeast, three temple columns arise from the ruins of the Foro di Augusto, now mostly under Via dei Fori Imperiali. The 30m-high wall behind the forum was built to protect it from the fires that frequently swept down from the nearby Suburra slums.

The Foro di Nerva was also buried by Mussolini's road-building, although part of a temple dedicated to Minerva still stands. Originally, it would have connected the Foro di Augusto to the 1st-century Foro di Vespasiano, also known as the Foro della Pace or Tempio della Pace. On the other side of the road, three columns on a raised platform are the most visible remains of the Foro di Cesare.

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1. Foro di Traiano

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Overshadowed by Trajan's towering administrative complex (the Mercati di Traiano), this was the last of the Imperial Forums to be built, dating to the…

2. Foro di Cesare

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Caesar's Forum sits at the foot of the Capitoline Hill, on the opposite side of Via dei Fori Imperiali to most of the other Imperial Forums. Caesar…

3. Foro di Augusto

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Commissioned by Augustus in 42 BC and completed 40 years later, the Forum of Augustus is largely buried beneath Via dei Fori Imperiali. Its main…

4. Basilica Ulpia

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A series of grey granite columns is all that remains of the Basilica Ulpia, a vast 40m-high hall that once stood in Trajan's Forum. Built in the early 2nd…

7. Colonna Traiana


Towering over the Foro di Traiano, Trajan's column (AD 113) is adorned with a microscopically-detailed spiral frieze illustrating the Romans' victorious…

8. Torre delle Milizie


This red-brick tower rises above the Mercati di Traiano (Markets of Trajan). Built in the 13th century, it was owned by several of the warring families…