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Trajan’s Halls – first shopping mall

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Trajan's Halls
Trajan's Halls

Trajan’s Halls (Mercatus Traiani) is probably the first shopping mall as we understand it today. They were created on the command of Emperor Trajan in the 2nd century CE (probably in the years 100-110 CE) by his architect Apollodor of Damascus. There were about 150 shops on several levels.

Trajan’s Halls are located on Via dei Fori Imperiali opposite the Colosseum. Their construction required levelling a part of the Quirinal. Located on a hill; together with the basilica, shops and offices, the entire complex consisted of six levels. Although the halls were mostly used for the market, some of the rooms played the administrative role of the emperor.

The first level was referred to as tabernae; on the second level, there were shops adjacent to the rocks of the slope. On both sides of tabernae two large halls with windows were built, topped with two half-domes (these buildings could be used as schools). On the third floor there is a steep road – Via Biberatica, which takes its name from the Latin word bibo, meaning “to drink” – there were shops and taverns on the street.

In the lower part of the square, there were two large halls where shows and speeches were probably held. At the end of Trajan’s halls, there is a great balcony with a beautiful view of Trajan’s Forum and the Altar of the Fatherland in Rome.

  • Bunson Matthew, Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire, 2002

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