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Trajan's Markets

Here, at sunset, one can see the curve of the hemicycle. Set in tiers behind it against the terraced slope of the Quirinal Hill, which was excavated for the construction of the forum, and acting as a retaining wall for the hillside, Trajan's Markets (Mercati di Traiano) formed a complex of more than 170 rooms, as well as a large vaulted hall, which may be the "Hall of Trajan" referred to in the Augustan History (Commodus, II.1). Although built as part of the forum, and at the same time, there seems to have been no close association between the two, given the high perimeter wall and paved street that ran beside it, offering further protection from fire. Above the arched windows in the picture, another thoroughfare (known in the Middle Ages as the Via Biberatica), which was connected to the lower street level by stairways at each end, provided access to more offices or shops.

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