The Historic Ruins of Merida, Spain

by P-Francone

Merida was adopted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

Merida, Spain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a treasured historical center of Spain. It was established in 25 BC with the name Emerita Augusta, which eventually evolved into its current name. The original name meant “the discharged soldiers of the army of Augustus”, referring to Emperor Augustus, who’s discharged soldiers established the city.

There are many impressive remaining Roman monuments remaining in the city, including a Roman era pedestrian bridge which is still in use, an Amphitheater where Greco-Roman plays are held and many amazing cathedrals and churches.

The following is a list of the top tourist attractions in the city, as compiled by Frommers.

1. Alcazaba
On the northern bank of the Guadiana River, beside the northern end of the Roman bridge (which it was meant to protect), stands the Alcazar, also known as the Conventual or the Alcazaba. Built in the 9th century by the Moors, who used fragments left from Roman and Visigothic occupations, the square structure was later granted to the Order of Santiago.

2. Anfiteatro Romano
At the height of its glory in the 1st century B.C., this amphitheater could seat 14,000 to 15,000 spectators. Chariot races were held here, along with gladiator combats and mock sea battles, for which the arena would be flooded. Many of the seats were placed dangerously close to the bloodshed. You can visit some of the rooms that housed the wild animals and gladiators waiting to go into battle.

3. Museo Arqueologico de Arte Visigodo
This archaeological museum, in front of Trajan’s Arch, houses a treasure trove of artifacts left by the conquering Visigoths.

4. Museo Nacional de Arte Romano
Located in a modern building adjacent to the ancient Roman amphitheater, to which it is connected by an underground tunnel, this museum is acclaimed as the greatest repository of Roman artifacts in Spain. Not only does it contain more than 30,000 artifacts from Augusta Emerita, capital of the Roman province of Lusitania, but it also incorporates part of a Roman road discovered in the early 1980s during the building’s construction. Many of the museum’s sculptures come from the excavations of the Roman theater and amphitheater. You’ll see displays of mosaics, figures, pottery, glassware, coins, and bronze objects. The museum is built of red brick in the form of a Roman basilica.

5. Teatro Romano
This Roman theater, one of the best-preserved Roman ruins in the world, was built by Agrippa (Augustus’ son-in-law) in 18 B.C. to house an audience of 6,000 people. Modeled after the great theaters of Rome, it was constructed using dry-stone methods, a remarkable achievement. During the reign of Hadrian (2nd c. A.D.), a tall stage wall was adorned with statues and colonnades. Behind the stage, today’s visitors can explore excavations of various rooms. From the end of June to early July, you can also enjoy a season of classical plays.

Read more:

http://www.frommers.com/destinations/meridaspain/1146_indattr.html

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