The Roman Ruin Tour

January 24, 2006

We started our tour at the Roman Theater and Amphitheater on this brisk morning. The theater was built in 15 BC and the amphitheater followed 7 years later. Both were great to look at but we´ve visited others with greater detail and preservation.

Our next stop was the Amphitheater House which is located outside the Roman city walls. The complex includes a section of the city wall, a section of the San Lazaro aqueduct and water tower, the remains of two dwellings and a mausoleum. The ceramic material that was recovered in 1992 provided the evidence to date the construction in the 1st century A.D. While walking through the remains of the houses you are taken aback at how well some of the mosaics have held their time and how stately the houses were in their time.

The Alcazaba (Moorish Citadel) was our final stop before everything closed for the siesta. The Alcazaba is the only Muslim building in Merida to have survived to the present day. We found the walls around the fortification and the cistern to be the most amazing and interesting. The cistern was built underground next to the river and has a double stairway which leads down to the water tank, which was replenished by river seepage. The walls were also impressive being built 2.7 meters thick and 10 high. From the top we could get a great view of the Roman bridge over the River Guadiana. The bridge has 60 arches allowing the river to flow through and is a great way to access the other side of the town.

By this time the town was shutting down for siesta so I went on a run along the river and Craig caught up on his reading. Later on we began our afternoon "session" at the Mithraeum House and Columbaria. The former were remains of a noble family residence which contained paintings, mosaics and open spaces. All allowing the owner to showcase his power and wealth. The latter is a term applied to two open-air funerary structures. There are pictures identifying the owning families dating back to the 2nd half of the 1st century A.D. Our last site of the day was the Church of St. Eulalia.

In 1990 refurbishment work began which gave rise to an underground archaeological excavation. The remains that were found include Roman houses, a cemetery, a basilica dedicated to martyr Eulalia and the present day church which was abandoned in 875 only to be rebuilt after the city´s reconquest. After a long day of touring the historical sites we were ready to relax so we walked along the ped mall and then headed back to our room to stare longingly at the mini bar for hours.

We were both really impressed with the people and of course the sights of Merida.

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