Mirabilia Urbis: Rome Walking Tours

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Fora Imperatorum: Rome's Expanding Downtown

Join us on this tour to discover the majesty of Imperial Rome's urban sprawl, the growing downtown area that they called fora. Moving in chronological order to better understand Rome's urban planning and the great public works of the first Emperors, our first stop is Caesar's Forum. Here we admire how Caesar's architectural ambitions and political genius overlapped: he was the first person to alleviate the serious problem of overcrowding in the old Roman Forum.  How?  By building a new one and doubling the space available for shops and administration.  He gets the credit for starting the 'forum trend' which all self-respecting emperors then followed.

Caesar's adopted son, August, was the first to follow in Caesar's architectual footsteps, leaving a splendid Forum embellished with a temple dedicated to Mars, the god of war. Why Mars? What was the young Augustus' message? Wasn't Augustus the harbinger of a Golden Age? We will stop to answer all these questions and more...

Vespasian's Forum follows with its history. It served principally as a museum, where the Emperor displayed the trophies of his war in Judaea.  What artwork was on display and what has happened to the pieces over the centuries?  On our stroll, we will wave to the elderly Emperor Nerva, who succeeded in immortalizing himself (although he reigned for less than two years) by inaugurating the Forum Transitorium (which had been started and perhaps nearly completed by Domitian) in the space remaining between his predecessors' fora.

Trajan made the biggest contribution by creating the most complicated and multifunctional Forum of them all. To make space for this giant public work, his workers moved over 61 million cubic meters of dirt! We'll disucss this and other engineering miracles while jostled by ancient Romans shopping in this monumental ancient mall.

Expenses: at the moment, the only Forum accessible to the general public is Trajan's Complex (the Basilica and so-called Markets). When the archeological area hosts exhibits, the entrance fee is euro 14; under normal circumstances, it is euro 12.  Children are eligible for discounts. 

At times, the Forums of Caesar and Augustus are accessible by special request.  Please see "the cost" section of this webpage for more information related to special requests and their fees.