The Forums and Emperors — Illuminating the Roman Empire 2,000 years on!

Rome, Italy

A permanent installation of artistic illumination uses lighting to narrate the history of the Forums and Emperors.

The Forums were at the heart of the late Roman Republic and of the Roman Empire.

Today, the ancient ruins have been brought to life by Helvar’s lighting control system and ERCO Luminaires. Working in partnership to illuminate one of the world’s most important archaeological sites 2,000 years later!

The Imperial Forums are located between the Colosseum & Vittorio Emanuele II monuments in Piazza Venezia and are the setting for this grandiose lighting project and urban enhancement. The lighting display was designed by Maestro Vittorio Storaro, cinematographer and three times Academy Award winner, together with his daughter Architect Francesca Storaro. She has also created the lighting design. Work on the project was carried out by the Rome City Council with electrical system installer Acea S.p.A. and Unilever for the design phase.

LED technology was used to illuminate the Imperial Forums. Due to the fragile nature of the archaeological site and power requirements being limited to 28 kW covering a surface area of over 20,000 m2, ERCO’s LED luminaires were installed due to their excellent lighting performance, extremely low energy consumption and minor need of maintenance. The design requirements of Acea S.p.A were all met.

Helvar designed the lighting control and light management system for Imperial Forums, following the lighting design requirements and set up created by Vittorio and Francesca Storaro. This was carried out by using Helvar 910 DIGIDIM router’s and hundreds of digitally controlled DALI LED luminaires. With Helvar DALI based lighting system it was possible to carry out a specific dimming and control for each luminaire.

The entire site is connected to an astronomical clock that, at sunset, automatically activates the programmed scenes to emphasize the architectural characteristics of the forums with lighting accents and creating warm or neutral white light. All the lighting displays and designs of the lighting designers were fulfilled.


A wave of light rises from the ground and illuminates the Temple of Mars Ultore with an intense luminosity, it gradually becomes softer as it rises from below to encompass the entire perimeter of the walls that surround the two Exedrae, of the Forum of Augustus. Pax Romana was established under Augustus, this is symbolised by soft neutral light shining down from above to mimic soft moonlight enhancing the beauty of the Forum around the Temple.


The illumination of the Forum of Nerva is composed of a series of lights producing an upward lighting effect of space, where the Temple of Minerva stands. The lighting of these architectural elements enhances the magnificence of the Temple of Minerva: the Pronao, telling a story of Roman splendour in the surviving pair of columns “Colonnacce” that look skywards.


The main focal point of the Forum of Trajan is the Trajan Column, standing at 39.81m high. Soft light illuminates the story of the Emperor’s epic achievements which are carved into the Trajan column.

Due to the flexibility of the lighting control solution installed, Helvar was able to maximise the lighting effect required creating a light scenario that will make the Imperial Forums even more magical.

Roberto Rota “We at Helvar Italy are very proud of having had such a key role in this prestigious project. Working close to such excellent professionals who have taken into consideration our suggestions to meet their targets has represented a very stimulating experience. We have been involved from a very early stage up to the opening on the 21st of April and during the whole process the overall feelings were about constantly giving and getting valuable input to reach objectives that were perceived as common ones. At the end, a mix of technological and emotional aspects due to the unique area of operations”.

Rome, Italy