Mérida was one of the biggest surprises of this trip. I never imagined that I’d be walking through Roman ruins of this magnitude in the middle of Spain!
Mérida was founded by the Romans in 25 BC and called Augusta Emerita. It was the capital of the Roman province of Lusitania and located on the banks of the Río Guadiana. At Merida, major Roman roads from León to Seville and Toledo to Lisbon crossed. The Roman ruins are definitely the highlight of this town.
- Templo de Diana is the oldest of Mérida’s Roman buildings.
- Mérida’s Roman teatro (theater) and anfiteatro (amphitheater) are must sees. The theater is well preserved and seats 6,000 people (and is still used today for special events). The amphitheater, which holds 15,000 spectators, opened in 8 BC for gladiatorial contests.
- Basílica de Santa Eulalia is a church that honors a child martyr Eulalia, who was burned alive in AD304 for spitting in the face of a Roman magistrate.
- Alcazaba Árabe (fortress) was built by the Romans and strengthened by the Visigoths and Moors. From the fortress walls are views of the Roman bridge.
- Circo (circus) is where chariot races were held.
Thanks to Fodor’s Travel Guides, Trip Advisor, and Wikipedia for the great lessons that helped me to plan and summarize this trip.