The Trajan Column

The Trajan Column tells the episodes of the Dacian war. In 101 AD Trajan, the great Roman general of Hispanic origin, resumed military operations, which had already been initiated by the emperor Domitian in Dacia, the current Romania. The war was fought in two military campaigns, and with the second (105-106 AD) Dacia was finally defeated and reduced to a Roman province.

Click on the scenes on the right to view the image and listen to the story of the various events of the war.

Move the mouse
along the column
and listen the story

Trajan's Column is without doubt one of the most famous monuments of ancient Rome. It has always remained standing in its place since its construction, and has been a landmark in the urban landscape for almost two thousand years. It was dedicated to Trajan by the Senate and inaugurated by the Emperor in 113 AD, as memorialised by the inscription above the access door in the base.

The Column was placed in the new Forum complex, in the centre of the courtyard which was reached after crossing the huge colonnaded square and the colossal Basilica Ulpia. The monument, almost 40 meters tall in total, stands on a tall square base decorated on three sides with bas-reliefs of stacks of weapons, while the side facing the basilica features the inscription of dedication.

On this side is the entry door to the inner cell, where the urn containing the ashes of the emperor was placed, and from where the long spiral staircase to the top, lit by 43 slits, can be accessed. A bas-relief frieze about 200 meters long, by an unknown sculptor known as the Master of Trajan's Column, unfolds around the whole shaft 23 times in all. The work commands viewers' attention especially thanks to the exceptional decorative layout, aimed at celebrating the two victorious military campaigns of 101-102 AD and 105-106 A.D. against the Dacians, a barbaric people who lived in present-day Romania.