A forum (Latin, plural: Fora or Germanized forums ) was a place in the cities of the Roman Empire that formed the political, legal, economic and religious center of the place. It largely corresponded to the Greek agora . The translation as “marketplace” is not always entirely accurate because there were sometimes separate squares for economic activities.
The model and namesake was the Roman Forum in Rome , but there were other forums there, such as the Boarium Forum , which was primarily used for trade . Well-preserved examples of forums can be seen, for example, in Pompeii , Ostia or some ruined cities in North Africa. In France there were forums in Gallo-Roman oppida, for example in Alesia .
While the forums in Rome have been redesigned and rebuilt over the centuries, the corresponding squares in the cities of the empire were often planned facilities that were usually located at the intersection of the two most important streets of the city and were monumentally expanded. The usual furnishings included one or more temples , assembly rooms for municipal organs and associations, as well as halls ( basilica , porticus ).
Forum with a distinctive addition was also a multiple city name in the Roman Empire, which indicates that the square was the starting point for the city's foundation. One example is Forum Iulii in southern France, today's Fréjus .
Large, magnificently designed imperial forums were set up in Rome, especially in the early Principate , in Constantinople in the 4th and 5th centuries. Above all, they served the rulers' self-portrayal. When the character of the Roman cities changed in the course of late antiquity , the forum fell into disuse in many places or was built on.