Temple of Diana – Merida - History and Facts | History Hit

Temple of Diana – Merida

Merida, Extremadura, Spain

The Temple of Diana is a very well-preserved UNESCO-listed ancient Roman temple in Merida.

Peta Stamper

12 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Temple of Diana – Merida

The Temple of Diana (Templo de Diana) in Merida, Spain, was a sacred site constructed by the Romans in the early 1st century AD after the conquest of the area by the Emperor Augustus.

Roman Merida, known as Emerita Augusta, became an important centre of Roman power in the region after being founded by Emperor Augustus. Originally formed of veterans of the Roman conquest, the city quickly grew to become a thriving metropolis. Within this ancient city, the Temple of Diana would have formed a central part of the Roman Forum, where the principle civic buildings of the city originally stood.

Incredibly well-preserved, probably due to its incorporation into a 16th century palace, the Temple of Diana’s Corinthian columns still stand in their original rectangular formation, and form part of UNESCO’s Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida.

Temple of Diana – Merida history

Built in the 1st century AD under Emperor Tiberius in the Roman capital of Lusitania, the ‘Temple of Diana’ formed the heart of the city’s municipal forum. Despite its name, the temple was in fact dedicated to the imperial cult rather than the goddess Diana, and would have been one of the city’s main temples (due to its dedication and position within the urban area).

Nonetheless, the temple dominated the main roads of Merida: the cardo and decumano. The temple had its own landscaped enclosure, open to the forum, and featured an impressive portico behind 2 ponds. This temple also boasted 8 metre-high Corinthian columns made of granite.

In the 16th century, the Conde los Corbos Palace was built in the temple cella – the interior room – which in part preserved the Roman elements. The Renaissance style palace celebrated the Roman features.

In the 17th century, the temple was misnamed as Diana’s by a local historian, although excavations found inscriptions to a flamen – a priest of the imperial cult – that demonstrated otherwise.

Temple of Diana – Merida today

Today, the Roman Temple of Diana is one of Merida’s most majestic ancient buildings and is open access for visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage site. The structure is not easily walked by, as it continues to dominate the modern landscape. You can also get quite close to the time-ravaged columns, guarded by a low railing that does not obstruct the view.

Getting to the Temple of Diana – Merida

Situated in the heart of Merida, the Temple of Diana is only a 9 minute walk from the train station with links to Badajoz, Caceres, Cabeza de Buey and Madrid. Otherwise, the temple is found off the N-630 via car, and there is parking nearby at Parking Cervantes.

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