Roman Imperial Forum, also known as the Forum Transitorium.


  • AD 64: Fire sweeps through the heart of Rome, destroying (among other things) the Argiletum, which was the main road from the Subura district to the Forum Romanum.
  • AD 70 - 79: Vespasian is Emperor. At some point during his reign, he plans a "Forum Transitorium" to replace the Argiletum and to bridge his Forum of Peace and the Forum of Augustus. He dies before it is completed, and the project is abandoned.
  • AD 86: Domitian builds the Temple of Minerva and the forum, but dies before it is dedicated.
  • AD 96 - 98: Domitian's successor Nerva supervises the dedication of the Forum and Temple, which becomes known by his name.
  • AD 1606: The Temple of Minerva, which has survived in very good condition, is demolished so that its stone can be used to build a fountain.


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  1. Temple of Minerva
    This hexastyle prostyle temple was designed to give visual weight to its end of the forum.

  2. Entrance to the Subura district

  3. Entrance to the Forum Romanum, between the Curia and the Basilica Iulia

The Forum of Nerva is the least interesting of the Roman fora, since it is basically just a glorified street. The main architectural challenge was to disguise that fact by echoing the architectural vocabulary of a forum. The use of a (very narrow) temple on the long axis, plus the addition of half-columns on the long walls, creates an illusion of width.

The temple Minerva (whom Domitian considered his patron deity) was originally going to be balanced by a temple to Janus. The poet Martial, heavily prompted by Domitian, wrote an effusive poem in praise of the then-unconstructed temple, including a vivid descriptioin of the building. This is now rather a literary folly, since no temple to Janus was ever erected on the site.

Two of the columns from the Temple of Minerva still remain. Contemporary Italians refer to them as the "colonnacce", and generally think them rather ugly. The temple podium is also still visible, but no one expects it to look pretty.

  • Course notes from "The Topography and Monuments of Ancient Rome", taught at UC Berkeley by Professor Stephen Millar
  • The Ancient Roman City, by John Stambaugh (course text)
  • The Mute Stones Speak: the Story of Architecture in Italy by Paul MacKendrick (course text)

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