Trajan's Forum, Rome, designed by Apollodorus of Damascus, early 2nd century AD; one of the …—Fototeca Unione, Rome

In ancient Roman cities, a centrally located open area surrounded by public buildings and colonnades and serving as a multipurpose public gathering place. The forum was an adaptation of the Greek agora and acropolis. In Rome the forum Romanum referred to the flat and formerly marshy space between the Palatine and Capitoline hills. In the Roman republic, this was the site of public meetings, law courts, and gladiatorial games and was lined with shops and open-air markets. Under the Roman empire, when the forum evolved into a center for religious and secular ceremonies and spectacles, it held many of Rome's most imposing temples, basilicas, and monuments. New forums were built, some devoted to judicial or administrative affairs and some to trade. The aesthetic harmony of Trajan's Forum (2nd century AD), with its complex of buildings and courtyards and its tiers of shops, influenced many subsequent town planners.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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