Discover Rome

17 Sep

Forum of Nerva

After the construction of the Templum Pacis, finished in the year 75 AD, a wide rectangular space of 45×170 meters was left, between this and the previous structures created by Augustus and Caesar, occupied by older buildings and with a commercial aspect (the only ones to survive in the very ancient district of Argiletum) and by the encumbering perimeters of the two gigantic southern apses of the Forum of Augustus.

Towards west, this area might have appeared delimited from the majestic prospectus of the rear side of the Basilica Emilia where underground was the Cloaca Maxima.

Based on the information of the recent excavations and by the news given by the classic authors it is possible to establish the end space and its transformation in Forum made by Domitian, emperor from 81 to 96 AD and probably already from the years 85-86 the new structure had a precise appearance and in the year 97 was inaugurated by the emperor Nerva (96-98), still known with this name.

The area was transformed in a forensic square, of about 114×45 meters, with a temple dedicated to Minerva in the middle of the short oriental side and application of a jutting colonnade on the ceiling together with the trabeation along the major sides where the available space was so tight and stretched to not allow the construction of normal porticos.

The simple solution allowed to solve the problem connected with the presence of the two southern hemicycles of the Forum of Augustus which abruptly restricted the size of the area and whilst Minerva’s temple was up against the bigger one, placing it along the axis of the new forum, the minor hemicycle was demolished.

The placement between the Augustan apsis and the one to the temple and the evident asymmetry of this last one, were masked and harmonized on the rear by an elliptical colonnade: the Porticus Absidata, where only a few ruins of the pillars remain in blocks of tuff and represented also the monumental access to the Suburra’s Forum.

After the most recent excavations, the two extreme oriental and occidental sectors are visible, whereas the central part of the square is still unseen under Via dei Fori Imperiali.

The oriental sector was excavated between 1931 and 1942 and in the corner formed by this and the current Largo Corrado Ricci, the only part left of the ancient outside wall of the forum, on which the only two protruding columns lean against undamaged, after more than nineteen centuries, together with the surviving trabeations of those forty four in pavonazzetto marble, that decorated the sides of the square: the so called Colonnacce. Above it leans a trabeation from the frieze richly decorated, protruding above every column and every vault curving inwards in line with the outside wall, surmounted by a slender attic.

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