Archeological Ensemble of Mérida (1993)
Spain

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The colony of Augusta Emerita, which became present-day Mérida in Estremadura, was founded in 25 B.C. at the end of the Spanish Campaign and was the capital of Lusitania. The well-preserved remains of the old city include, in particular, a large bridge over the Guadiana, an amphitheatre, a theatre, a vast circus and an exceptional water-supply system. It is an excellent example of a provincial Roman capital during the empire and in the years afterwards. 
  • Spain 1994. Augusta Emerita. Fragment of a Roman statue, and a Roman marble tablet from the IX legion. 

Spain 1994. Merida. Augusta Emerita

The remains of the old city, complete and well preserved, include, in particular, a large bridge over the Guadiana, an amphitheatre, a theatre, a vast circus and and an exceptional water supply system.

Spain 1974. Roman Theatre of Mérida.

It is an excellent example of a provincial Roman caiptal during the Empire and in the years following. 

This is where the Romans went to relax and to be entertained.  The theatre, which was donated to the city by the Emperor Agrippa in 24 B.C., was a perfect place to see plays.  The stage is beautifully decorated with marble and the acoustics are superb. 

  • Spain 1974. Roman Theatre of Mérida. 
Every one of the 6,000 spectators who could fit into the semicircular theatre could hear everything that was going on, and they still can, for productions continue to be staged there.  

The amphitheatre nearby, built in 8 B.C., and with a capacity of 14,000, was the setting for prizefights between gladiators and wild animals.  An intricate system of water channels could flood the amphitheatre so that naval battles could be staged. 

  • United Nations 2000.  World Heritage Site of Mérida, Spain.
United Nations (New York) 2000.  World Heritage site of Mérida, Spain.

The main landmark of the whole complex must have been the Trajan Triumphal Arch, which was clearly huge.  What remains is a 15 m-high minor part of it.  The most popular of its facilities was undoubtedly the circus, which held as many as 30,000 chariot-racing fans.  There were obviously several other buildings around the theatres and stadiums, for Mérida was certainly a top-rate leisure and tourism resort. 

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in Spain (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Spain-section, for further information on the individual properties. 

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Revised 19 jul 2007  
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