The Best Roman Ruins in Spain

The Best Roman Ruins in Spain

History Hit

24 Nov 2020

There’s a host of top Roman ruins, landmarks and monuments in Spain to visit and among the very best are Baelo Claudia, Segovia Aqueduct and the Merida Roman Theatre. Other popular sites tend to include Empuries, Lugo Roman Walls and Cordoba Roman Bridge.

We’ve put together an experts guide to sensational ancient Roman sites to visit in Spain, with our top ten places to visit as well as a full list of ancient Roman remains in Spain, which shouldn’t be ignored if you have the time.

What are the top Ancient Roman sites in Spain?

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1. Baelo Claudia

The Roman city of Baelo Claudia in Andalusia is one of the best surviving examples of an ancient Roman town in Spain. Sitting directly on the coast, Baelo Claudia is a beautiful site to visit, with both stunning views and ancient ruins.

Today, Baelo Claudia is a place where visitors can observe the fundamental characteristics of a classical Roman city and there are many aspects to the site that can still be viewed. hese include the forum and the temples of the Capitolium as well as temples of eastern character such as that which is dedicated to Isis. Beyond these elements are a Basilica, administrative buildings or the municipal archive, market, theatre, baths, city walls & gates, streets, aqueducts and cisterns.

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2. Segovia Aqueduct

The Roman Aqueduct at Segovia is one of the best preserved Roman ruins in Spain and is listed by UNESCO. With certain areas still retaining two levels, this impressive Roman site is an excellent example of the sheer scale of ancient Roman aqueducts and one of the best preserved in the world.

This stunning site now weaves through Segovia, looming over the urban sprawl at a maximum height of almost 30 metres. The best place to see Segovia Aqueduct is probably at the Plaza de Azoguejo. Segovia Aqueduct is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct.

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3. Merida Roman Theatre

The Merida Roman Theatre is one of the most impressive of the ruins of this former colony of the Roman Empire. Together, these ruins, which include Guadiana Bridge and Merida Amphitheatre, form the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida.

Now partially reconstructed, the Merida Roman Theatre is extremely well preserved, particularly its lower levels. The semi-circular walls are intact and the back wall of the stage or “frons scenae” with its double-tiered columns has been beautifully restored.

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4. Empuries

The site of Empuries in Catalonia contains the remains of an ancient Greco-Roman city and military camp and is one of the oldest of its kind found on the Iberian Peninsula.

Today, the archaeological site is nestled between the coastal village of Sant Marti d’Empuries and l’Escala, on the Costa Brava. Remains at the site include the ruins of the Greek market and port, an ancient necropolis as well as the Roman-era walls, mosaics, amphitheatre and early Christian basilica.

The site’s location on the Balearic Sea boasts magnificent views, making it a perfect location to explore history in scenic surroundings.

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5. Lugo Roman Walls

The Lugo Roman Walls have been described by UNESCO as “the finest surviving example of late Roman military fortifications”, a title they truly deserve. Built in the third and fourth centuries AD, the walls are incredibly well preserved, rising up to a height of between eight and twelve metres and their over two kilometre circuit remaining entirely intact.

Several aspects of the walls are particularly impressive, including the fact that five of its ancient gates and forty six of its ancient towers are intact. While additions have been made over the centuries, what makes the Lugo Roman Walls remarkable is that they are predominantly Roman. Visitors can stroll along the Lugo Roman Walls, a great way to appreciate their exceptional nature and to see the town.

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6. Cordoba Roman Bridge

Built by the Romans in the first century BC, the Roman Bridge of Cordoba, as described in around 1140 by Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, ‘surpasses all other bridges in beauty and solidity’. It has 16 arches supported by irregular semi-cylindrical buttresses and is 247 metres long by approximately nine metres wide.

In season five of Game of Thrones, the Roman Bridge of Cordoba doubled as The Long Bridge of Volantis spanning the mouth of the Rhoyne River.

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7. Tarragona Aqueduct

The stunning Tarragona Aqueduct is the last remaining section of the ancient aqueduct which served the Roman city of Tarraco. Today the aqueduct is a beautiful site to visit, nestling as it does in the green valleys and picturesque hills of the Spanish countryside. 

The remaining section rises a colossal 90 feet from the ground at its highest point, and has an upper tier containing 25 arches with 11 underneath. Tours are available to take visitors across the bridge, though they’re not for the faint-hearted!

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8. Merida Roman Circus

The Merida Roman Circus was a vast sports arena able to accommodate up to 30,000 people. It is considered to be one of the largest of its kind in the world. 

Today, the circus is in fairly good condition for a ruin of this type, still having its original track, stands and gateways. There is now a visitor centre where tourists can learn about its history. Like other historic sites in Merida, the Roman Circus is part of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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9. Tarragona Amphitheatre

Part of the ancient Roman city of Tarraco, Tarragona Amphitheatre was built in the second century AD and was originally able to host as many as 14,000 people. 

While it has been damaged over the centuries, it is still possible to view elements of the original structure and seating areas and this Roman site remains an excellent example of the Roman ruins in Spain.

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10. Carranque Archaeological Park

Carranque Archaeological Park contains a series of Ancient Roman ruins built in the fourth century AD. The site is made up of a well preserved villa – known as the Materno Villa – as well as a nymphaeum and a basilica. There is also a small ancient burial ground.

A good place to either start or end your trip is at the visitor centre, which contains some of the objects found at the Carranque Archaeological Park as well as models of how it would once have looked.

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