The Roman Capital of Lusitania Merida
Merida is located in the Extramadura Region of South-West Spain. The city was founded in 25 B.C. upon order of Emperor Augustus and named "Emerita Augustus" by the discharged soldiers. It soon became the economic and cultural capital of Lusitania, the Westernmost province of the Roman Empire. Amidst a park, the Roman Theater was erected in 16-15 B.C. by Consul Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa.
With Sabratha in Lybia, it is one of the best preserved in the world and still used for the annual Festival of Classical Drama in the hot season. The rich décor of the capitals in the theater certifies that Spain lavishly received attentions from the Roman Power, since it is the homeland of several emperors of the Antonines Dynasty. The riches of the Iberian Peninsula are of great importance for Rome with the silver mines of the North-West, as well as agricultural and industrial resources. The country will be romanized only under Augustus with the foundation of Merida where a urban program proper to Roman cities will be imposed. The theater was enriched with a sumptuous frons scenae in the second century under Trajan and Hadrian. With its two levels of columns surmounted by baldachins, the frons scenae offers a significance in relation with the supra-terrestrial sphere and symbolizes the City of the Gods. About 15,000 persons could seat in the neighboring amphitheater. Mosaics decorate the "Casa del Amphitheatro" erected in the first century A.D. In front can be found the interesting National Museum of Roman Art built in red bricks by Rafael Moneo in 1985. Sculptures coming from the theater decorate the grand hall whose arches are as high as those of the majestic Roman aqueduct of Los Milagros. Three galleries organized around this hall display ceramics, statues and mosaics. In the basement excavations are presented. Close to the museum, vestiges of two villas and of a hippodrome were kept.
The elegant Temple of Diana, Apollos's Sister and the Arch of Trajan are on your way back to the town center. You certainly will not miss the Roman Bridge of Guadania, the longest of all still existing, offering a wonderful view over the ramparts of the Umayyad Alcazzaba built in 835, one of the oldest Moors fortresses in Spain. East of Merida, the Casa Romano or Casa del Mithraeo shows a splendid mosaic pavement.
The climate in Merida is of the Mediterranean-Continental type with an Atlantic influence. Winters are mild and summers very hot with 40°C. The city is the Capital of the Autonomous Community of Extremadura since 1983 and the archeological site was listed a World Heritage by Unesco in 1993.
The Roman Theater of Merida, Spain.
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d2/Merida_Roman_Theatre1.jpg
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/48/02.Teatro_romano_%2849%29.JPG
The Temple of Diana.
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/72/Le_Temple_de_Diane.jpg
The Roman Bridge, the longest existing.
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/Puente_romano_m%C3%A9rida.jpg
Roman statue and finely carved marble capital in the theater.
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bf/Estatua5_en_el_Teatro_de_Merida.jpg
The Roman Aqueduct.
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/El_acueducto_de_Los_Milagros.jpg
The Roman Art Museum.
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9c/Mnar2.jpg
The Roman Forum.
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/Foro_municipal_m%C3%A9rida.jpg
Grandstand of the Roman Theater. Image source : http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d1/GradasTeatroRomano.JPG