Immerse yourself in the remains of Mérida, a politically significant location.
The Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida, which contains well-preserved remains dating back to the first century, has a noteworthy history and remarkable sites. Its religious structures, such as the Temple of Diana, along with its buildings for entertainment and examples of private architecture like the House of the Amphitheater and Casa del Mitreo, allow visitors to experience the archaeological site’s history, which includes years of serving as a politically significant location.
In 25 B.C.E., Caesar Augustus founded Augusta Emerita – the capital of Lusitania – the Western-most province of the Roman Empire. After Diocletian reformed the colony in the second-third century, it became the capital of the Diocese of Hispania and later served as the royal seat for the Suebi and Visigoths. Later, in the centuries under Arabic rule, the territory was a border capital of Al-Andalus.
Although Mérida has been built on Augusta Emerita since then, the ancient terrain’s significant sites have remained and provided enriching experiences since the structures’ excavations in the 20th century.
The Temple of Diana, which is an extraordinarily-preserved site, is one of the structures that allows visitors to understand the territory’s historical significance.
Constructed in the first century, the temple was the center of Augusta Emerita’s municipal forum and one of the colony’s main temples. Although it was originally dedicated to the Roman imperial cult, the Conde de los Corbos palace was built inside of the Temple of Diana in the 16th century. In the 17th century, the temple’s label became a misnomer after a historian inaccurately defined the structure as the Roman goddess Diana’s.
Nowadays, one can still see 19 of the Temple of Diana’s original Corinthian columns that are approximately 26 feet high. Additionally, one may spot the palace’s remnants located at the temple’s rear.
Situated a 9-minute walk away from the structure is the House of the Amphitheater. Erected at the end of the third century B.C.E., the House of the Amphitheater was originally comprised of a complex that included a courtyard, dining area, kitchen and thermae complex. One may see each of these spaces’ remains, as well as their unique designs. Specifically, visitors might notice the dining area’s mosaic floor, in which realistic scenes of a grape harvest are depicted.
Situated to the south of the House of the Amphitheater is the Casa del Mitreo, a large Roman house that belonged to an important family. Constructed of three courtyards and several rooms, the Casa del Mitreo is a noteworthy structure visitors may admire.
Many of the house’s rooms are decorated with mosaics and mural paintings, with the most notable picture being the Cosmic mural, which represents Earth, Heaven and the sea. Interestingly, the Casa del Mitreo was named as a result of its proximity to the remains of a temple that may have been dedicated to Mithra – a Roman god.
By visiting the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida, one can begin to understand the area’s historical importance. In addition to the Temple of Diana, House of the Amphitheater and Casa del Mitreo; the site’s public architecture, engineering works and buildings for leisure also provide opportunities for travelers to immerse themselves in the remains of a phenomenal territory.