Basilica Ulpia (Moved from Roman Forum to Forum of Traian)

"Basilica Ulpia (Moved from Roman Forum to Forum of Traian)" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Thursday 12th May 2011

This was the most important basilica after two ancient ones: Emilia and Giulia. With its construction the political life moved from the Roman Forum to this Foro di Traiano (Forum of Trajan). It was dedicated to the administration of justice and presence of emperor; and it was the largest in Rome (120m by 60m).The Basilica Ulpia was compound of a great central nave with the four aisles divided by rows of columns and apses at the ends. The columns and the walls were of precious marbles, the vault (some 50m high) was covered by the gilded bronze tiles. The whole of the construction was decorated with the war spoils and trophies.

Basilica Ulpia, Via dei Fori Imperiali, Rome
The architectural drawing shows a portion of the basilica's facade as it would have appeared to one entering the forum. The colonnade that flanked the square and the apse at each end of the basilica are in cross section. Trajan's Column soars in the background. The roof of the basilica was covered with tiles of gilded bronze, which especially impressed the traveler Pausanius, who thought it "worth seeing not only for its general beauty but especially for its roof made of bronze"

The central nave has 18 x 6 columns and is surrounded by double aisles. The short sides are conceived as hemicycles lined with an addorsed colonnade dividing the wall into shallow bays suitable for the installation of book shelves. In fact, these hemicycles were the Bibliotheca Ulpia, a library that replaced the older library of Asinius Pollio on that place.
architecture of Basilica Ulpia (Moved from Roman Forum to Forum of Traian), Rome
The upper parts and roofing of the building present a series of problems in the use of columns, windows, clerestory and it not certain whether there was a second story as is suggested in the reconstruction above. As it appears today it was essentially a single-story building.

The fragmented remains of the Ulpia Basilica are enough to give an idea of its original majesty and splendor. It was at one time the largest building in Trajan's Forum, not to mention the largest basilica in Rome. It was designed and built by one of history's most noted architects:

Many of the columns still exist on site, although a large number have fallen. Part of the foundation of the basilica continues today under the modern Via dei Fori Imperiali a trunk road constructed during the rule of Benito Mussolini. The whole of the construction was decorated with war spoils and trophies from the Dacian Wars conducted under the command of Trajan.

Later, it was used as the architectural prototype by Constantine as the basis for the layout of the new Christian churches. The Basilica Ulpia was used as to model for Constantine completion of the Basilica of Maxentius.[

Note: The monument is partly visible from Via dei Fori Imperiali near Trajan's Column.

Basilica Ulpia
Via dei Fori Imperiali
Foro Traiano, 1
00184, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Monti (Colosseo-S.Giovanni-S.Maria Maggiore) (Roma centro)
Basilica Ulpia is Shown By "Map E Zone" As "139"

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