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Roman Mérida

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  • Los Milagros Aqueduct, Mérida © Turespaña

    Los Milagros Aqueduct, Mérida © Turespaña

  • Amphitheatre, Mérida © Turespaña

    Amphitheatre, Mérida © Turespaña

  • El Foro Portico, Mérida © Turespaña

    El Foro Portico, Mérida © Turespaña

  • Roman Theatre, Mérida © Turespaña

    Roman Theatre, Mérida © Turespaña

  • Roman temple to Diana, Mérida © Turespaña

    Roman temple to Diana, Mérida © Turespaña

  

Mérida, the splendour of ancient Rome

This route through Mérida invites us to get to know one of the best archaeological and artistic sites in the Roman period in Spain. In fact, the site has been awarded the World Heritage designation by UNESCO.
 

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Mérida was founded about 2,000 years ago by the Roman Emperor Octavian Augustus, under the name Emerita Augusta. Back then it was the capital of the old Roman province of Lusitania. Today it is the capital of the region of Extremadura.


The city is situated on the banks of the Guadiana River and there are two bridges that cross it. On one hand, the longest Roman bridge in Spain; and on the other, the Lusitania bridge, a modern design bridge by the architect Santiago de Calatrava. These bridges prove that the Roman and contemporary designs coexist in Mérida.
The route can be covered in one day because most of the monuments can be found in the historic centre of the city. For example, on the Avenida de la Reina Sofía, next to the Mérida bullring we can find the funeral constructions of Los Columbarios, with its Visitor Centre, and the Casa del Mitreo House. The latter is a typical Roman recreational villa with its famous Cosmogonic Mosaic.


The three most impressive archaeological monuments in the city are the theatre, the amphitheatre and the circus. The theatre is very large and one of the best preserved in Spain. Every summer the Mérida Classical Theatre Festival takes place there. Next to it we can find the amphitheatre, which could hold up to 15,000 spectators. The circus was also very large and could hold up to 30,000 spectators.
In the so-called Amphitheatre House, we can see remains of the Roman walls, as well as of the San Lázaro aqueduct, with its decant tower, two houses and necropolis behind, in which the Dintel de los Ríos Mausoleum was discovered.
The National Museum of Roman Art is situated in the vicinity and was designed by the architect Rafael Moneo. This museum is a must on our trip.


Another two stops on our route around Roman Mérida are the remains of the Provincial and Municipal forums. In the first one, Trajan’s Arch stands out. In the second one we can find the remains of the temple of Diana, the Portico, a basilica and Roman thermal baths. Nearby we can also find Las Morerías archaeological site
Another essential stop is the Santa Eulalia Basilica, a Paleochristian temple (4th century) that was rebuilt in the 13th century. The most important element in the basilica is its famous "Hornito", a 17th century chapel which was built with the remains of the Roman temple dedicated to Mars. The excavations carried out since 1990 have discovered a crypt, a vast site suitable for visits, where more remains were found - Roman, late Roman and Visigothic.


The outskirts of Mérida
There are other places worth visiting outside the historic centre of Mérida. Firstly, we can find the famous Los Milagros aqueduct, on the Albarregas stream, in the north of the city, where we can also see a modest bridge. This used to be the aqueduct that supplied drinking water to Mérida in Roman times. The water came from the Cornalvo reservoir, situated in the Cornalvo Nature Reserve, about 20 kilometres from the city.
The Proserpina reservoir, about 15 minutes north of the city, is also worth visiting. This piece of Roman engineering is a place of leisure and relaxation today.

 

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View of the exhibition 'The Reefs of Time. Archaeology, Photography, and Literature in Mérida' © Museo Nacional de Arte Romano

Apr 12, 2017 to Dec 31, 2017

Exhibition

National Museum of Roman Art - Mérida
Exhibition: The Reefs of Time. Archaeology, photography, and literature in Mérida

© Museo Nacional de Arte Romano

May 18, 2017 to Dec 31, 2017

Exhibition

National Museum of Roman Art - Mérida
Exhibition: Games and Toys in Augusta Emerita

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Jul 7, 2017 to Dec 31, 2017

Exhibition

National Museum of Roman Art - Mérida
Exhibition: Mulieres. Women in Augusta Emerita

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Nov 16, 2017 to Nov 25, 2017

Festival

Centro Cultural Alcazaba - Mérida
Unreleased Film Festival

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