Photos of Merida Roman Site, Spain. Images & Pictures { 46 images } Created 24 Jun 2014

Photos of Emerita Augusta the Roman ruins in Merida, Spain. Emerita Augusta was founded in 25 BC and became the capital of the Roman Province of Lustania and today Merida is the capital of the Extremadura, western central Spain. The Roman ruins of Emerita Augusta n Merida are the most extensive in Spain and the well-preserved remains of the old city include, in particular, a large bridge over the river Guadiana, an amphitheatre, a theatre, a vast circus and an exceptional water-supply system. Merida is an excellent example of a provincial Roman imperial capital and is symbolic of the process of Romanisation in a land that had hitherto not been influenced by the urban phenomenon. The Roman ruins are so important that Merida was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

Emerita was founded by Augustus in 25 BC at the end of his Spanish campaign. Its first inhabitants were time-expired veterans of the Legio V Alaudae and Legio X Gemina legions veterans of the Cantabrian Wars. Three years later it became the capital of the new Roman province of Lusitania, and played an important role as the base for the conquest of the north-west of the Iberian Peninsula. Its site was a classic one, where a major road crossed an important river (the Quadiana), and it became a very important administrative, commercial, and communications centre. Emerita benefited from the rule of the Spanish Emperors Trajan, Hadrian, and Diocletian who endowed it with splendid public buildings. Christianity was established there in the 3rd century, and it was quickly to become the seat of an archbishop. With the pacification of the peninsula by the Visigoths from 457 onwards it flourished as the capital of one of the six provinces, and enjoyed a special role as cultural centre.

As our photos show the Roman theatre is in incredible condition. The theatre of Merida was built from 16 to 15 BC and dedicated by the consul Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. It was renovated in the late 1st or early 2nd century AD, possibly by the emperor Trajan, and again between 330 and 340 during Constantine's reign, when a walkway around the monument and new decorative elements were added. With the advent of Christianity as Rome's sole state religion, theatrical performances were officially declared immoral: the theatre was abandoned and most of its fabric was covered with earth, leaving only its upper tiers of seats (summa cavea).

The Roman bridge over the River Guardiana spans 792 metres making it one of the largest surviving bridges of ancient times. The location of the bridge was carefully selected at a ford of the river Guadiana, which offered as a support a central island that divides it into two channels. In the Roman era the length was extended several times, adding at least five consecutive sections of arches so that the road is not cut during the periodic flooding of the Guadiana.

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