Global view of the Imperial Forums. (In the centre of the picture, in blue). On the right, the Roman Forum and the Palatine, on the left, in the foreground, the Quirinal hill. The old Roman Forum is the centre of public and justice affairs in the ancient Rome. On the contrary, due to the development of Rome and of the Empire, it soon became too cramped for all the demands of justice or for the meetings of the people. The Emperors have therefore successively let build a row of forums, so-called the Imperial Forums, which constituted a remarkable complex, composed of porticoes, temples, libraries, and basilicas. Furthermore, the Emperors did consider it as a matter of prestige. Nevertheless, the Imperial Forums did never eclipse the old Forum, which always remained the centre of Rome.

The Forum of Vespasian formed a square. There, an altar to the Peace had been erected, therefore this forum was also often called the Forum of the Peace. The temple housed the treasures taken in Jerusalem after the Emperor’s victory upon the Hebrews in 71.

The Forum of Nerva, in the centre of the picture, looks like a long corridor. It was crossed by the Argiletum, a way that lead from the Roman Forum to the district of Suburra. This forum was therefore called the Forum Transitorium. The temple is dedicated to Minerva. On the Argiletum, at the end of the forum, stood the oldest sanctuary dedicated to Janus, since it dated, according to the legend, back to the time of the King Numa. It was a huge four-sided arch of the same type as the one dedicated to Janus in the Velabro. These arches had no other purpose as to be a public gate. In the centre of the forum, the colossal statues of the deified emperors.

The Forum of Augustus is assigned to justice. The temple is dedicated to Mars Ultor, to fulfill the revenge of Octavian on his adoptive father’s and great-uncle’s murder, Julius Cæsar. Behind the temple there was a huge wall to protect the forum against the numerous fires in the densely populated district of Suburra. On each side of the temple stood a basilica.

Under this angle, you notice, on the right of the picture the huge wall in fireproof material which Augustus had built immediately behind the temple, to stand as fire-break against the fires of the popular district of Suburra. Left of the Forum of Augustus, the Transitorium and a part of the Forum of Vespasian.

Cæsar ordered the construction of this forum, the Forum of Cæsar, in 51 AD. It was a rectangular plaza with a temple dedicated to Venus Genitrix. Cæsar let erect a golden statue of Cleopatra, as well as paintings. Around the forum, you could find shops.

The Forum of Trajan is the greatest of all Imperial Forums. There were a public place, the Basilica Ulpia, the Trajan’s Column, two libraries and the temple of deified Trajan. To achieve the construction, it was even necessary to dig out a part of the Quirinal Hill that pointed onto the planned site.