Rome day 3 (continuation 3)

The imperial fora

Reconstruction drawing f.l.t.r. Capitoline, Roman Forum, Imperial fora and the reconstruction of the imperial fora
Reconstruction model of the Roman Forum and the imperial fora      
Imperial fora after antiquity and the situation before the interventions of Mussolini
Reconstruction drawing f.l.t.r. Capitoline, Roman Forum, Imperial fora
Present situation and the fora        Map of the fora      Map of the imperial fora       Situation after the interventions of Mussolini
Map and reconstruction drawing of the Roman Forum and the imperial fora:
1.  Tabularium
2.  Porticus deorum consentium
3.  Vespasianus temple
4.  Concordia temple (reconstruction)
5.  Carcer (prison reconstruction)
6.  Septimius Severus arch
7.  Rostra (reconstruction)
8.  Saturnus temple (reconstruction)
9.  Julia basilica (reconstruction)
10. Forum
11. Aemilia basilica (reconstruction)
12. Castor and Pollux temple
13. Caesar temple (reconstruction)
14. Antonius-and- Faustina-temple
15. Regia (reconstruction)
16. Vesta temple
17. Home of the Vestal virgins
18. Bibliotheca Pacis
19. Romulus temple (reconstruction model)
20. Maxentius basilica
21. Venus and  Roma temple (reconstruction)
22. Forum of Julius Caesar (reconstruction)
23. Curia regia
24. Venus-Genetrix temple (reconstruction)
25. Forum of Augustus (reconstruction model)
26. Mars Ultor-temple (reconstruction)
27. Exedra (reconstruction)
28. Forum of Nerva
29. Minerva  temple (reconstruction)
30. Forum of Pacis (reconstruction)
31. Pax temple (reconstructie)
32. Forum of Trajan (maquette model)
33. Equestrian statue of Trajan (reconstruction)
34. Triumphal arch
35. Exedra
36. Basiliek Ulpia (reconstruction)
37. Column of Trajan
38. Libraries (reconstruction)
39. Trajan temple (reconstruction)


Maquette of Rome Paul Bigot large size     Lay out     Plan des forums impériaux
Top right:  Roman Forum        Left  from top to bottom  the followings forums:
Peace, Nerva, Augustus, Caesar (right of Augustus) and  Trajan
maquette Rome Paul Bigot fora: Vredes, Nerva, Augustus, Caesar (rechts van Augustus) en Trajanus

Download app in App Store imperial Fora 3D  Iphone/Ipad English/Italian

We will likely cover this area first before we visit the Forum Romanum, but that will depend on the temperature. The Forum Romanum is situated in a valley where temperatures can really skyrocket. Wikipedia has more info about the imperial fora here.

Julius Caesar before the Forum of Caesar and the statue
Statue bronze of Julius Caesar before the Forum of Caesar Rome

photo: Leomudde en het bronzen beeld: edk7

Because the Forum Romanum comprised a rather small area and the emperors desired their own space, they were forced to find another location. This new location became the valley between the Palatine and the Quirinal, north of and adjacent to the Forum Romanum. The imperial fora served as a buffer against the impoverished areas north of the Forum, like the Suburu (More info about the Subura here).

‘Ancient Rome had its Urbs, the city, the area situated up-high that was home to the rich and powerful. And then there was Suburra, a densely populated working-class district that also offered shelter to a mish mash of hucksters, thieves, whores, gladiators and criminal innkeepers. Being a wealthy Roman, you would do well at night to avoid this swirling crowd lest you had torches and some slaves to guard you.’

Source: Marc Leijendekker NRC 

The forum of Caesar

The new imperial fora were complexes with fountains, squares, gardens, temples, reading halls, basilicas and halls to stroll in. Caesar made the decision to build the first imperial forum, the Forum Julium or the Caesar forum.

Remnants of the forum of Caesar large size      Aerial picture      Lay out of the   forum of Caesar      Reconstruction drawing
Forum of Caesar 10th century
Remnants of the forum of Caesar Rome


Remnants of the forum of Caesar large size       Reconstruction model of the  Forum of Caesar
Remnants of the forum of Caesar Rome

It cost Caesar a fortune, all the spoils of war he brought from Gaul. Caesar had to purchase all kinds of houses to make room for his forum. To boot, the Curia with all its buildings had to be moved somewhat, while the offshoot of the Capitoline also caused serious issues and had to be largely excavated. The Forum was completed by his adoptive son Octavianus, the later emperor Augustus.

The Caesar forum is an enclosed, rectangular courtyard of 160 x 75 metres. The square was surrounded on three sides by a double colonnade. An extended main road of 160 metres ended up at a temple devoted to the matriarch of the Caesar family: the Venus Genetrix (mother). According to Caesar, he descended from the goddess Venus. Her statue was next to Caesar’s in the temple’s apse. The Greek sculptor Arcileus made the statue. Caesar had the breasts of the goddess decorated with pearls. A statue of Caesar’s true love, Cleopatra, was also given a spot in the temple (more about this temple? click here for Wikipedia).

Three columns of the temple of Venus Genetrix  reconstruction and the map      Large size
Reconstruction model of the temple of  Venus Genetrix     Frieze of the Venus-Genetrix temple
Remnants of the forum of Caesar and three columns of the temple Venus Genetrix Rome

His own cavalry statue stood in front of the temple. The horse, originally a statue of Alexander the Great, made by Greek sculptor Lysippos, was looted. Not Alexander, but Caesar came to mount the horse. The walled space was also used for shops that were located on the south side. (Remnants can still be seen). After the completion by Augustus, the forum was given another drastic change by Trajan. Some columns of the colonnade and the stage with three columns of the Venus-Genetrix temple still stand.

A novelty of the Genetrix temple is the round apse that closes the cella: an innovation that would be often repeated.

Behind the temple of Venus Genetrix, bordering the Clivus Argentarius, was the basilica Argentária, an exchange area for money traders, constructed by Trajan.

Augustus, the adoptive son of Caesar, built his own forum.

n Augustus edk7

Forum of Augustus reconstruction and  with the neighbourhood  Subura behind large size
Interior right exedra reconstruction            Large size
Forum of Augustus reconstruction Rome
Remnants of the Forum of Augustus large size       Aerial pictures remnants      Forum of Augustus      Capital      Caryatide 
Reconstruction model of the forum of Augustus      Map of the forum of Augustus
Forum of Augustus cloister of  Basilius of Caesarea on the Forum of Augustus 10th century
Forum of Augustus remnants Rome

photos: professor frenchieen mrhson


Forum of Augustus:
1. Le Plan De Rome 
2. Youtube Forum of Augustus Le Plan De Rome
3. Youtube Forum of Augustus (1.21 minutes)

This forum north of the Caesar forum continued with Caesar’s design, which in turn was based on Hellenistic squares. This again required many homes in the Suburra to be demolished. The impoverished people were forced to move.

The Forum of Augustus had a rectangular map with a colonnade on the sides. At the end of the long axis was a temple devoted to Mars Ultor (the avenging god Mars because of Caesar’s death). The temple held Caesar’s sword and the honorary symbols of the Roman army that Augustus retrieved back from the Parthians. A novelty were the two arch-shaped exedras at the end of the colonnade next to the Mars Ultor temple. The colonnades had many statues including that of Julius, Aeneas and the ancestors of the Julian family. Augustus made it clear this way that the history of Rome was the history of the Julians. The centre of the square had a large statue of Augustus with a chariot. Because Augustus feared that a fire in the neighbouring impoverished area of Suburra would destroy his forum, he had his entire complex walled. To the right, you can still see the gate in the wall that provided access to the Suburra.

Source and photo: Martin G. Conde and HBO

The forum of Vespasian also called temple of peace

Entirely eastward, directly behind the temple of Romulus lies the peace forum, also called the Forum of Vespasian. Barely anything has survived. It was commissioned by Vespasian. The entire complex was a large, rectangular square surrounded by colonnades. The peace temple was at the back, as a commemoration of the peace treaty following a long period of civil wars. In this temple, which was not elevated, the loot was kept that was brought in by Vespasian’s son Titus from Jerusalem. Both sides of the temple had libraries and colonnades with famous statues.

1. Youtube  peace forum  Le Plan De Rome 
2. Youtube lecture  peace forum by professor Kleiner Yale University  (starts at 44.30 minutes)

Remnants of the Forum of Vespasian large size        Reconstruction drawing         Reconstruction model
Remnants of the Forum of Vespasian Rome
Peace Forum Hall of the “Forma Urbis Romae”   The wall of the “Forma Urbis Romae” nowadays
Peace Forum Hall of the “Forma Urbis Romae” reconstruction

photo: the imperial fora

Forum of Vespasian
1. Pictures Forum of Vespasian Le Plan De Rome

Forum of Nerva:
1. Youtube  remnants and a reconstruction (2.13 minutes)
2. Youtube  Forum of Nerva (1.17 minutes)
3. Pictures of  Forum (Wikipedia)

Remnants of the Forum of Nerva large size        Another side of the  Forum  of Nerva      Forum in the current urban context
Reconstruction model      Reconstruction drawing      Reconstruction temple of  Minerva      Forum of Nerva in the Middle Ages c. 1000
Remnants of the Forum of Nerva Rome
Forum of Nerva Passage to the  Suburra
Youtube  remnants and a reconstruction (2.13 minutes)
Forum of Nerva Passage to the  Suburra


Forum of Trajan

Trajan statue in front of the Forum of Trajan
Trajan statue in front of the Forum of Trajan Rome


Map Trajan’s Forum with the market of Trajan:
1.   Entrance gate (triumphal arch reconstruction)
2.   Square, enclosed by porticus (reconstruction)
3.   Marble peristylia (reconstruction)
4.   Exedras (remnants)
5.   Trajan Market (remnants)
6.   Via Biberatica (remnants)
7.   Basilica Ulpia with two exedras (reconstruction)
8.   Greek and Latin library  model (interior reconstruction)
9.   Column of Trajan (reconstruction)
10. Courtyard temple of Trajan (reconstruction)
11. Temple of Divus Trajan (reconstruction)

1.   Youtube lecture by professor Kleiner Yale University Forum of Trajan (starts at j 22.10 minutes)
2.   Youtube lecture  Basilica Ulpia  by professor Kleiner Yale University (starts at 31.30 minutes)
3.   Youtube  Forum of Trajan and Trajan’s market Discovery (9.07 – 12.04 minutes)
4.   Youtube lecture Trajan column by professor Kleiner Yale University (starts at 45.30 minutes)
5.   Youtube lecture professor Kleiner Yale University (starts at 59.30 minutes)
6.   Youtube  Khan Academy Trajan’s market (6 minutes)
7.   Youtube Khan Academy Trajan’s market (3.55 minutes)
8.   Youtube Khan Academy Trajan column (4.55 minutes)
9.   Youtube Trajan’s Forum  Capware (3.40 minutes)
10. Youtube The construction of the Colonnade of Trajan National Geographic (4.46 minutes)

Market of Trajan large size           Aerial picture large size
The Market of Trajan Rome

photo: Me-Ko

Trajanus market large size         Via Biberatica
The Trajanus market Rome

photo: Darren and Brad

The Market of Trajan large size
The Market of Trajan Rome
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. 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.
 Trajan’s market Via Biberatica      Shops reconstruction
 Trajan's market shops Via Biberatica

A large advantage of this project was that it connected the old centre, the Forum Romanum, with the new, second large centre: the Campus Martius or the Field of Mars (Wikipedia).

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.

Trajan market and a reconstruction of the hall
Trajan market hall Rome


Column of Trajan

This statue 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. The gold urn with the ashes of Trajan was kept in the base.

Library of Trajan
reconstruction Library of Trajan Rome

picture: National Geographic

Crosswise and directly behind the column and the libraries was the basilica Ulpia. 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.

photos: Pedestal SonomaPic Man and relief  HEN-Magonza

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.

photo: Steven Zucker

After the fall of the Roman empire, the Forum and the imperial fora begin to decay. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, large parts are covered in earth and a few columns or parts thereof protrude from the ground.

Imperial fora  Middle Ages about 1000 reconstruction large size
Imperial fora  Middle Ages about 1000 reconstruction Rome

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.

After having viewed the imperial forums, we move up at the Titus arch towards the Palatine where we are met with a lovely sea air.

  The path up to the Palatine large size       The path up to the Palatine     
The path up to the Palatine Rome

picture: Zach Tanner

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