Travel Stories

The First Shopping Mall

World's First Mall

All over Rome today, inventive blends of ancient and modern architecture are bringing the public back into once-empty ruins. The 3-story Markets of Trajan, attached to Trajan's Forum, are a prime example. Created for the ancients as the world's first shopping mall, they have been cleverly recast as a gallery for contemporary art. Visitors peruse the maze of vaulted arcades with their tiny stalls and narrow shops, where vendors once hawked Arabian spices and pearls from Bahrain. Roman shoppers could even buy fresh fish, kept in tanks full of saltwater that was pumped 10 miles from the coast. Today, the same halls delight the artistic senses with sleek modern sculpture, video installations, and glamorous mannequins in the latest Italian designer fashions.