Walking with the Romans: Part 2

Roman Bridge over the River Guadiana. Merida Sapin

Roman Bridge over the River Guadiana. Merida Sapin

Merida is not a large place, with a population of around 64,000 people. A pleasant place, it is not different from many other Spanish towns, with friendly people, many bars and restaurants with one exception, that being that as being one of the Roman Empires capitals in the Iberian Peninsula it is home to some of the best preserved Roman Ruins in Europe. As a result in 1993 it was established as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.The town was founded in 25 BC, with the name of Emerita Augusta which means discharged soldiers – of the army of Augustus, who founded the city; the current name Mérida was derive from this, changed and altered by its conquest by the Muslims and other down through history. Its main purpose for all these conquers was to protect a bridge over the River Guadiana.

The path of the Camino Pilgrim will take you over this bridge with 64 granite arches that remain intact and in use to this day as a pedestrian walkway and is one of the longest Roman bridges remaining in existence.  At the end of this bridge stands the Alcazaba a fortress that was initially built by the Romans, but later occupied by the Moors. Over it main gate you will find a reference dedicating it to Allah.

from the Alcazaba in Merida Spain.

from the Alcazaba in Merida Spain.

In more recent history it was taken and occupied by Napoleon, and both opposing side of the Spanish Civil Wars, such was its strategic importance. Further into the town you will find sitting side by side, a Roman Forum and Theatre. The former similar to that found in Italica, was use for gladiator fights and as you proceeds down the stairs into the ring it offers life-size mock ups of the different types of gladiators, their specific armour and who they would normally fight. However of the two the theatre is the most spectacular. While breathtaking as a tourist attraction, it is still used for plays and festivals by the local population.

Roman Forum, Merida Spain

Roman Forum, Merida Spain

Roman Amphitheater, Merida Spain

Roman Amphitheater, Merida Spain

Equally as spectacular is the Temple of Diana. Surprisingly this building is surrounded by a simple fence low fence to protect it from errant tourists, is located close to the centre of town on one of Merida many pedestrian walkways, such that hundreds of working Spaniards walk by it ever day on the way to and from work.

Temple Diana, Merida Spain

Temple Diana, Merida Spain

more great stories and architecture tomorrow….

Text by W.E.Foreman Photos by JMeyersForeman

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4 thoughts on “Walking with the Romans: Part 2

  1. Hi Janice & Bill, great collaborative post! The Romans certainly knew how to take over countries! A photograph and an informative narrative gives us a glimpse into lives gone by and also gives us the opportunity to reflect on those times. Interestingly, there is an Amphitheater in the south of France that is identical to the one in Merida and it is also in a better state of repair. Dorothy and I sat there, a few years ago, and marveled at the size of it and the fact that it was still standing. I believe it sat many thousands of people. Hopefully you two sat in the Merida one and perhaps even imagined and heard some of the pomp and ceremony of the many productions that occurred there. Thanks for posting the “Roman Series”, it is bringing back a lot of memories for me.

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  2. This isn’t the roman forum, is the roman anfitheatre; and this isn’t the roman anfitheatre, is the roman theatre.
    The different is easy, In the theatre just was dramatic performance; but in the anfitheatre was the fights between gladiators and lions or other gladiators.

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