Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Lusitania's capital - Merida

From Wellington, Talavera and the 1800's back in time to the Romans & the Emperor Augustus. Merida was founded in the year 25 BC, with the name of Emerita Augusta (meaning the bachelors – discharged soldiers – of the army of Augustus, who founded the city; the name Mérida is an evolution of this) by order of Emperor Augustus, to protect a pass and a bridge over the Guadiana river. The city became the capital of Lusitania province, and one of the most important cities in the Roman empire. Mérida preserves more important ancient Roman monuments than any other city in Spain and whilst they dont quite match up to some of the more remote African and Middle Eastern ruins, they are actually pretty damn impressive.

It was a baking hot day, and I think I must have drunk gallons of water as I wandered around. First stop was the Amphitheatre and the theatre , both in remarkably good repair. During the summer months, the Amphitheatre continues to be used as a venue for plays, opera and other such events. There was lots of Roman propaganda to be seen, with worshipful statues of Augustus and Livia, his wife. 

 From the theatre it's a quick trip to the aqueduct - Acueducto  de los Milagros, or aqueduct of miracles which evoked much awe in the inhabitants of Merida. It is now beloved of storks, all nesting happily on the tops of the towers.

The town has cunningly built a high view point to help you get the best view of the circus. They are keen to point out their most famous son, Diocles, who won fame and fortune, both in Merida and in Rome as a charioteer.

 The remaining town fort or Alcazaba was built by the Muslim emir Abd ar-Rahman II. My overriding memory by this point was of the temperature rising into the 40's and finding shade and cool in a neat little underground filtration system and reservoir that they built to provide water to the garrison. Next to the Alcazaba is the Roman bridge across the river, still in use today. Beautiful town, well worth a visit.

No comments:

Post a Comment