Trajan’s Markets, the Perfect Window on Rome’s Forums

Trajan’s Markets, the Perfect Window on Rome’s Forums

A Syrian architect, a Spanish emperor, an Italian location. This is the magic mix behind the Trajan’s Markets. [1]


Only the Roman Empire could draw the very best talent from Europe and the Mediterranean Sea to create this architectural wonder.


And the Roman empire under Trajan, at the start of the 2nd century, was at its peak from many points of view, including its size. This building doesn’t come out of the blue. It’s evidence of the zenith reached by the ancient Roman civilization and shows one of its major strengths: that it was really multi-ethnic.


The Trajan’s markets are an architectural wonder because they were built in a very complicated location, on the side of the steep Quirinal hill, and because they saw the introduction of new construction techniques by Apollodorus of Damascus: cement pouring and different types of vaults covering.


They were the ancient world’s biggest indoor shopping mall (6 floors), where hundreds of traders sold everything from garum – the vinegar and fish sauce – to spices, from oil to vegetables and silk. They now also host Rome’s only Architecture museum, devoted to ancient Roman architecture. Crowns, friezes, decorations, marbles, figures, volumes, structures, artifacts from the Forums are all on show for you to admire.


The details of Roman art and architecture are under a fantastic transparent ceiling (and walls), that lets in all the sunlight Rome can boast of –and it’s a lot, believe me, even during winter.


Besides the monument as such and the items it permanently showcases, there is also a stunning view not to be missed.


Once you’re in you can also see from close up the only remaining medieval tower in Rome which reminds us of how dangerous was the small town of Rome (some historians say that its population shrank to 20,000 inhabitants from a peak of more than one million during the Roman Empire) in the Middle Age, after Rome stopped being the capital of a great empire and before the Vatican became a powerful political organization. The 13th century red-brick Militia tower marks the skyline of a big part of downtown Rome.


Furthermore, the complex also hosts temporary unrelated exhibitions, often international contemporary art showings. The current one, running through January 13, is a contemporary painting exhibit by Pedro Cano. The Spaniard’s watercolors reproduce some of the best views of the Mediterranean islands and cities. [2]


Last but not least, the location is very central, but here you can avoid the crowds!