Itálica - History and Facts | History Hit


Santiponce, Andalusia, Spain

Itálica was the birthplace of more than one Roman emperor and includes some impressive ruins.

Antara Bate

23 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Itálica

Itálica near Seville was an impressive city and the hometown of Roman emperors Trajan and Hadrian. It would have been a vital hub in its time, both politically and in terms of military strategy. Today it is a fascinating archaeological site.

Itálica history

Established in 206 BC, Itálica was initially founded under the auspices of General Publius Cornelius Scipio following a victory at the Battle of Ilipa. The site was already home to a Turdetanian community, but in time it became first a town, then acquiring municipal status under Hadrian.

Under Emperor Augustus, the city developed into one of the most advanced cities in the Roman world at the time. At its peak, Itálica would have been an imposing place, the evidence of which can still be seen today.

The town rose to high social and military status in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, when Trajan and his nephew Hadrian were in power. Hadrian named the town, which had a population of 8,000, Colonia Aelia Augusta Italica. The area was a major producer of grain and olive oil, and some families with private farms became very wealthy exporting to Rome.

From the 3rd century AD the town lost its affluence, possibly due to issues with its port on the river Guadalquivir. Throughout the Middle Ages and until the last century, the ruins were used as a source of building materials – for the road from Merida to Sevilla in the 19th century, and for grand houses in Seville. On December 13, 1912 a Royal Order declared the Ruins of Itálica National Monument.

Itálica today

Today, visitors to Itálica can appreciate its broad streets, the remains of its large amphitheatre as well as houses and public buildings including various mosaics and gardens.

Around the wide main avenue or Cardus Maximus, about five large houses of prosperous families have been excavated, some with well-preserved, colourful mosaics, including floors with exquisite designs of birds, Neptune, and the planets.

Visitors can also see the remains of the Traianeum, the Temple of Emperor Trajan, Termas Menores and Mayores, and the sophisticated sewer system normally seen in larger cities.

Cotidiana Vitae, a Roman-themed visitor centre in Santiponce, is also worth visiting. It houses a reconstruction of a 2nd century AD Roman house, complete with bedrooms and kitchen, a plan of how Italica would have looked, and an audio-visual presentation showing the construction of the Roman town.

Italica was featured as a filming location in Game of Thrones Season 7.

Getting to Itálica

The Roman ruins of Italica, with remarkable mosaics and an impressive amphitheatre, are located 9 kilometres to the north of the city of Seville, just outside the village of Santiponce.

Italica and the nearby roman theatre are both signposted from the main road.