Trajan’s Market

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See the world’s oldest shopping mall at Trajan’s Market.

Trajan’s Markets are a spectacular ancient structure facing Via dei Fori Imperiali, the road that runs between Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum. They are home to the Museum of the Imperial Forums and often host temporary exhibitions. But even without the content, the complex is well worth visiting.

In Ancient Rome, areas like Trajan’s Market were the focal point of the community, where government matters were handled, goods were bartered, and people gathered. See the echo of this centre of commerce in one of the best-preserved ancient sites in all of Rome.


  • See a rare example of a surviving Roman high-rise building on the three floors of Trajan’s Market.
  • Explore the grounds of the market complex, and imagine the bustle of 150 shops and vendors selling their wares 2000 years ago.
  • Learn more about the five imperial forums in the Imperial Forum Museum.

History of the Markets

Trajan was emperor in the 1st century AD.  He had started life as a soldier and was well respected by the army.

One of his great military victories was conquering Dacia (modern Romania) and extending the Roman Empire. He used the spoils from the war to fund major public buildings in Rome, including the largest of the forums, Trajan’s Column and Trajan’s Markets.

Tickets & Prices

To enter Trajan’s Market, you will need to purchase a ticket. Find out more below.

Trajan’s Market & Imperial Forum Museum Ticket

This ticket grants you entry into Trajan’s Market and the Imperial Forum Museum; by pre-booking, you can skip the queues for the ticket office on the day. Though you can print out your ticket, it is easily shown on your phone; simply book a time slot and arrive at the market with your ticket already downloaded.

Important ticket information:

  • Your ticket will be downloaded onto your phone
  • The ticket is valid for a single day.
  • You must choose an hour time slot to enter on your chosen day
  • Opening hours are 9:30 to 19:30 every day of the week.
  • Final admission is one hour before closing

Trajan’s Markets from Via dei Fori Imperiali

How to Get to Trajan’s Markets

By Metro

The closest metro station is Colosseo, which is about a 10-minute walk away. When you come out of the metro station, turn right and walk to the end of Via dei Fori Imperiali. Trajan’s Market is the impressive semi-circular structure on your right, but the entrance is on the other side. Follow the road around Trajan’s Column and take the steps in front of you to the street above. The entrance is on the right. 

Coming from Piazza Venezia on foot, there are steps to reach the museum

By Bus

If you’re coming by bus, the nearest stop is at the end of Via Nazionale. There are many buses that will take you there, both from Termini and Piazza Venezia.

Walk in the direction of Piazza Venezia. At the end of Via Nazionale, you’ll see a green traffic island in the middle of the road with a church on one side. The entrance to the markets is next to the church, behind a metal fence. There is often a lot of traffic coming around the corner, so be careful to use the crosswalk.


There’s only one entrance, so you can’t go wrong. The door is wide with a low ramp leading from the street into the Great Hall.

The easily accessible entrance to Trajan’s Markets

Tickets / Bookshop

When you enter, a member of staff is waiting on the left to scan your ticket. If you don’t already have a ticket, or you’d like to get the audio guide, go into the bookshop (first entrance on your left). 

As well as tickets, you can find books, magnets, postcards, and bags on sale here.

The Video Guide

The video guide is well worth the cost.

Trajan’s Markets are part of a massive complex built over several levels. I was interested to learn that Trajan’s Market wasn’t actually a market. While some guidebooks describe it as an ancient shopping mall, commerce was just one of the many functions of this vast complex.

In the 1930s, it was assumed that each of the many rooms were shops, and it was given the name ‘markets’. While the name stuck, it is now believed that it was a multifunctional structure used for administration, public speaking, and ceremonies, as well as shopping and warehouses. 

The audio guide will help you understand the whole history of the complex and exactly what you are looking at. Even without the guide, there are informative explanations in Italian and English next to each display in the museum and some video displays.


You will be asked to leave your bags in the locker room. The lockers are free, and there are some large enough to fit trolley bags.

Things To Do In Trajan’s Markets

While Trajan’s Market doesn’t have a large collection of artifacts, there’s a lot to see and learn about the building. Here are some of the reasons to plan a visit to Trajan’s Markets:

1. Have Fun Exploring 

Visitors of all ages will find the complex fascinating for its many rooms, corridors, and stairs, which can be explored while moving inside and outside as you go through the different levels from the entrance at the top to the Large Hemisphere. 

Some of the levels to explore (the entrance is near the white building in the background)

2. Find out About the Imperial Forums

It’s hard to tell from street level, but Rome has various forums in this area, built by different emperors. Julius Caesar was the first to build himself a forum. His adopted son, Augustus, did the same. 70 years later, the emperor Vespasian added his Temple of Peace to the complex of imperial forums, followed by Nerva and finally Trajan. 

Sadly, Mussolini built a big road through them, making them hard to understand, but the Museum of the Imperial Forums does a good job of explaining. There is a dedicated room introducing each forum, maps of how they were laid out, and videos showing reconstructions of what they would have looked like. 

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Videos with English subtitles show what the forums would have looked like

3. Discover the Messages Behind Trajan’s Markets

Trajan’s Forum and Market celebrated his military victory in Dacia. The spoils of that war were used to finance this large public space where there were many references to the Dacians in the decorations. Outside in the forum, Trajan’s monumental column is covered with a detailed pictorial description of the campaign.

But Trajan also used this project to connect himself to the memories of Julius Caesar and Augustus. Their forums were next to his, and he reused decorative elements from theirs to suggest continuity with the past and his relationship with these popular leaders.

The remains of statues of Dacian prisoners

4. Visit a Medieval Tower

After the empire fell, the complex became part of a Medieval fortress. Inside the grounds, you’ll come across the Torre delle Milizie, one of the best-preserved Medieval towers in Rome, though it is leaning noticeably to one side. You can’t go inside, but you can walk around it and enjoy views of the city below. There’s even an elevator that reaches the garden in front of it so everyone can get close.

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Torre delle Milizie

5. Discover What Creative Architects The Romans Were

It’s hard to believe, but when Trajan wanted to build his forum, and there wasn’t enough space, the Romans simply cut away a big chunk of the Quirinal Hill to make room for it.

Trajan’s Market was planned to fill the hole left in the side of the hill and to prevent the hill from becoming unstable. It is made up of different sections on various levels with windows on one side, filling the odd shape in an ingenious way.

Inside the museum, you’ll gradually make your way down through the various sections and different levels, discovering all the different sections until you reach the Forum of Trajan.

The audio guide draws attention to many of the challenges and architectural solutions found here, like the ceiling of the Great Hall, in the form of a conversation between Trajan and his architect, Apollodorus of Damascus.

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The Great Hall with its impressive cross-vaulted ceiling


Amazingly, much of this massive ancient complex is accessible to visitors with limited mobility, though the paving of the Large Hemisphere may not be suitable for everyone.

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Ancient paving in the Large Hemisphere

There are elevators between the various levels to avoid the stairs. Ramps and pathways have been installed to allow wheelchairs to move across the roads, which are also useful if you have difficulties with steps.

A pathway allows for wheelchairs access

The accessible route is well-marked, and the staff is very friendly and ready to help if you aren’t sure where to go.

The steps are steep


Trajan’s Markets are a stone’s throw from many of Rome’s other ancient sites: the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Domus Aurea, and Capitoline Museums are all within easy walking distance. The Roman houses under Palazzo Valentini (entrance next to Trajan’s Column) only take about 1 hour to visit, so combine well with the Markets.

If you’re feeling hungry after your visit, there isn’t a bar inside the museum. There are a couple on the stairs outside leading down to Trajan’s Column, but these are touristy places. A better option is to walk into the Monti neighborhood, which has a lot of small cafes and restaurants, many of them locally owned.

To get there, turn right as you exit the museum and walk past the church. Opposite you is another church, with a road running down one side. This is Via Panisperna which leads into Monti. At the first crossroads, ivy hangs across the street in front of you. Beneath this is Ai Tre Scalini, a bar that is popular with locals and expats and which usually has pretty fast service. 

Know Before You Go

  • Go in the morning when tour groups are visiting the Vatican and Colosseum, and you’re unlikely to find the site crowded.
  • If you decide to get the audio guide, the visit will take you about 90 minutes. If you prefer to explore on your own, 45-60 minutes is enough time to see everything.
  • Like with all ancient sites, it’s a good idea to have closed, rubber-soled shoes when you visit Trajan’s Markets. A lot of the ancient stones have been smoothed by time and are easy to slip on.
  • Don’t eat anything outside. Rome’s seagulls are large and aggressive, and there are a lot of them in this area. They sit on top of the columns watching for something to eat, so it’s best not to make yourself a target.
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A warning sign on the stairs leading outside to the Large Hemisphere

Did You Know That: 3 Interesting Facts 

  • Trajan’s Market has been referred to as history’s first shopping mall, as it was a multi-story complex filled with vendors, an early pre-cursor to the modern-day equivalent.

  • As well as being the hottest shopping destination in Ancient Rome, Trajan’s Market was also a headquarters for government offices.

  • Most of the restoration work on Trajan’s Market took place during the fascist regime of Mussolini during the 1920s and 30s.


Discover a history that spans almost two millennia in this brief timeline of Trajan’s Market:

  • 107 – 110 AD. Emperor Trajan commissioned the architect Apollodorus of Damascus to design the market.

  • 1200. A militia tower, Torre delle Milizie, is constructed on the site of Trajan’s Market.

  • 1349. A powerful earthquake damages the structure of Trajan’s Market.

  • 1574. The Convent of Santa Caterina da Sien was built. It will eventually be demolished in the early 20th century.

  • 1926 – 1934. Restoration work on the site begins.

  • 2007. The Museum of the Imperial Fora opens.
Trajan's Market map

Address: Trajan's Market, Via Quattro Novembre 94, 00187 Roma, Italy · view larger map