Trajan's Market

Coordinates: 41°53′44.28″N 12°29′10.35″E / 41.8956333°N 12.4862083°E / 41.8956333; 12.4862083

Trajan's Market (Latin: Mercatus Traiani, Italian: Mercati di Traiano) is a large complex of ruins in the city of Rome, Italy, located on the Via dei Fori Imperiali, at the opposite end to the Colosseum. The surviving buildings and structures, built as an integral part of Trajan's Forum and nestled against the excavated flank of the Quirinal Hill, present a living model of life in the Roman capital and a glimpse at the continuing restoration in the city, which reveals new treasures and insights about Ancient Roman architecture.

Thought to be the world's oldest purpose-built 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, of which several levels can be visited. Highlights include delicate marble floors and the remains of a library.

Trajan's Market was built in AD 100-110 by Apollodorus of Damascus, an architect who always followed Trajan in his adventures, to whom Trajan entrusted the planning of his Forum. During the Middle Ages the complex was transformed by adding floor levels, still visible today, and defensive elements such as the Torre delle Milizie, the "militia tower" built in 1200. A convent that was later built in this area was demolished at the beginning of the twentieth century to restore Trajan's Markets to the city of Rome.

Museo dei Fori Imperiali

The new Museo dei Fori Imperiali (Museum of the Imperial Forums), closed on Mondays, houses a wealth of artifacts from all of ancient Rome's forums. The modern entrance to Trajan's Market is at Via Quattro Novembre 94. immediately the visitor enters into a shopping area, disposed on two different sides, where free wheat was once distributed to the people of Rome. At the end of this hall a large balcony offers a beautiful view of the markets, Trajan's Forum and the Vittoriano. This is actually a part of the Via Biberatica (from biber meaning drink, the location for most of the Roman taverns and grocers' shops), the road that starts from the entrance and divides Trajan's Market.

The upper levels of the market were used for offices while the lower part, forming one side of Trajan's Forum, had shops selling oil, wines, seafood, groceries, vegetables and fruit. Medieval houses built on the top floor face the semicircular segment of the Via Biberatica. The lower part of the market today shows two levels: a ground floor level for shops, with an entry made in travertine, surmounted by an arch. The second level was formed by adjoining shops selling wines and oil. A third level, today visible only as some walls, was discovered at the Via Biberatica and was probably used for grocers' shops. On the lower part there are also two large halls, probably used for auditions or concerts. A shop housed in the Market is known as a taberna. The giant exedra formed by the market structure was originally mirrored by a matching exedral boundary space on the south flank of Trajan's Forum (see map).

The market is roofed by a concrete vault raised on piers, both covering and allowing air and light into the central space. The market itself is constructed primarily out of brick and concrete.