Imperial Forums in Rome

Imperial Forums in Rome

Imperial forums are monumental squares built by the Roman imperators in the period from 46 BC to 113 AD. These Forums were cultural, political and religious centers of the Empire, while today they represent one of the main tourist attractions of Rome.

Caesar’s Forum
The first Imperial Forum was built by Gaius Julius Caesar in 46 BC. It served as a replacement for the Roman Forum and therefore the center of the cultural, religious and political life shifted to this square that also served to glorify Caesar’s power and domination. In the square was a temple dedicated to the goddess Venus, since Caesar cunningly claimed that he was her direct descendent. In front of the temple there was a statue of Caesar riding the horse of Alexander The Great, Bucephalus. The location of this square was not a coincidence - it was located right next to Curia, the seat of senate and thus the center of power. Curia was rebuilt by Caesar after it was damaged in fire, when he made some changes to the building in order to make it a better fit for the newly built square.  

Augustus’ Forum
After his victory at Filipi in 42 BC, in which together with Marco Antonio Octavian August (the first Roman Imperator) he defeated Brutus and Casio (the two of Caesar’s assassins), Octavian August  promised that he will build the temple dedicated to Marte Ultore (Mars Ultore- the God of Vengeance). The temple was finished around 40 years later. In the square there were covered, round structures called “esedre”, which were used for legislative activities (trails). At the same time, the whole area of the forum was enriched by numerous statues representing characters of Roman mythology, but also by statues of Julius’ family members.

The forum of Peace
During the reign of Imperator Vespasian (ruled from 69 AD to 79 AD) a new forum was constructed, which was separated from Caesar’s and Augustus’ Forum. Since the form of a newly built forum was different and because it was separated from the other two, it has never been considered as one of the Imperial Forums. Unlike the other two, this forum had a beautiful garden richly decorated with baths and statues. The whole complex was constructed in honor of the fall of Jerusalem during the reign of Vespasian. Much later even the famous Urbis Romae was placed here, which is an ancient marble map of the Roman Empire which dates from the period of Imperator Septimius Severus (3rd century AD).

Forum of Nerva
Roman Imperator Domitian (ruled from 81 AD to 96AD) ordered another forum to be built. This forum was to connect the two existing Imperial forums (Caesar’s and Augustus’) with the Forum of Peace in a form of a large city square. In this limited space he managed to also build a temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva whom he considered his patron Saint. Due to his death, this forum was inaugurated by Nerva, Domitian’s successor, which is why the forum is not called the Forum of Diocletian.

Forum of Imperator Trajan
It is considered that the original Diocletian’s project was much more ambitious than the construction of just one forum. He wanted to connect Capitol and Quirinal Squares and therefore close the valley of forums and limit the space for any future similar projects. Roman Imperator Trajan (ruled from 98AD to 117AD) managed to make this idea happen. Financing the construction out of his conquering expeditions in Dacia he managed to build a colossal forum which was decorated with images of this conquest. The sheer size of the undertaken construction was impressive and encompassed: reconstruction of the temple dedicated to Venus, adding basilica Argentaria to Caesar’s Forum, removing part of the Quirinal Hill in order to make space for Trajan’s Market. The square of Forums was closed with Basilica Ulpia, behind which there was Trajan’s column. In front of the basilica there was the statue of imperator Trajan, represented on a horseback. This was the last Imperial Forum, but at the same time the largest one ever constructed.

The Museum of Imperial forums
Nowadays, it is possible to visit imperial Forums by entering the Museum of Imperial Forums opened in 2007. The museum offers to visitors the remains of ancient forums together with Trajan’s market and stands for a museum dedicated to ancient architecture. Inside the museum there are also just a few sculptures that were found on this sight and which used to decorate these ancient structures.

Ticket prices for Imperial Forums in Rome
Regular ticket price is 14 Euros (€).
Reduced ticket price is 12 Euros (€), (individuals between 6 and 25 years and senior individuals older than 65).
Free entrance: citizens of Paris (France), disabled individuals and their companions.
We advise you to check the ticket price before visiting on the official website of the Museums of Imperial Forums.

Working hours of Imperial Forums in Rome
From Tuesday to Sunday working hours are: 09:00 – 19:00h.
On 24th and 31st December working hours are: 09:00 – 14:00h.
Museum is closed: on Mondays, 1st January, 25th December, 1st May.
We advise you to check the working hours before visiting on the official website of the Museums of Imperial Forums.

Interesting facts

  • Roman Forum does not belong to the group of Imperial Forums, since it was built in 6th century BC when Rome was a republic.
  • During the Fascist Regime in Italy (The Second World War), a street was opened and named Via dell’ Impero (the street of the Empire, nowadays called Via dei Fori Impreiali) which was envisioned for military parades. Nevertheless, the only parade ever held on this street wee the celebrations in honor of The Republic of Italy (after the fall of the Fascist Regime).

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