The town of Mérida, in Extremadura, Spain, has 60,000 inhabitants, and seemingly just as many Roman sites. The official Plano Conjunto Monumental map squeezes in 30 of them, and most of them are very well-preserved and interesting. This makes this my longest blog post, with the largest number of pictures by far! I have put the pictures underneath the descriptions of the sites.
First is the amphitheatre – a really good example, and you can climb up and around, as well as exploring the ground level.
Then the theatre, which is a spectacular building; the stage building is in an excellent state of preservation, and the seating has been done up a bit, as it is still used regularly for summer plays.
The Forum Colonnade is right in the middle of a square bounded by buildings, and was one of the first things I passed on my way from the train station to my hotel.
The “Temple of Diana”, which is apparently more likely to be a temple to the Imperial Cult, is also in a small square surrounded by buildings, and is quite an imposing structure.
The Alcazaba, as with most of these buildings in once Islamic Andalucia, is built onto Roman foundations, and has a Roman gate. It also has an atmospheric underground goldfish pool!
The Guadiana ‘Puente Romano’ Bridge is excellent – beautifully built and in great order.
The ‘Moreria’ excavation site has remains of streets, houses and walls.
There is a monumental Arch of Trajan, with a nice little cafe built onto one side, where I had a beer and pinchos while looking up at the great arch.
There are at least two separate aqueducts – the higher but more ruined Acueducto Los Milagros, with storks nesting on top of it, and the Acueducto San Lazaro, in better condition but not as high. The Los Milagros one is next to another Roman bridge, over Mérida’s other smaller river, so that it is possible to get a picture of both together.
Then there is a full-sized intact Roman Circus, almost 450m long, with spina and starting gates as well as vestigial seating. Until 30 years ago, the main Madrid to Lisbon road went right through the middle of it, perhaps explaining the lack of building on top of it!
There is a site with various funerary buildings called the Columbarios. This is attached by a footpath to the Roman house ‘Casa Mitreo’ with mosaics, walls and the remains of a Mithraeum.
As I hope you realise if you’ve got this far, I was bowled over by Mérida. It has the same number of amazing Roman sites as some whole countries could hope for!