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The Remarkable Roman Theatre in Mérida | Extremadura, Spain (In Pictures)

We now resume our continuing series of photographs from our family trip to Spain's mythical Extremadura region back in late May. If you missed the previous posts (and there's really no good excuse to have done so - SUBSCRIBE HERE), here's a recap: we started in Madrid, made our way NW over to the spectacular Walls of Ávila, continued 154 km SW to our first stop in Extremadura, the city of Plasencia, and then a short drive south through Monfragüe National Park, the largest and best preserved Mediterranean forest worldwide, and then to the medieval city of Trujillo, a short 40 minute drive south. From Trujillo, we visited the Royal Monastery of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (a UNESCO World Heritage site) in Guadalupe, and today, allow me to present to you the city of Mérida.

Mérida, about an hour's drive south from Trujillo, has been populated since prehistoric times and is the capital of the autonomous community of Extremadura in western central Spain. The town was founded in 25 BC, with the name of Emerita Augusta and was used to resettle veterans and honorably discharged soldiers from the Roman army's 5th and 10th Legions. The city became the capital of Lusitania province, and one of the most important cities in the Roman empire.

The city was brought under Christian rule in 1230, when it was conquered by Alfonso IX of León and thrived until the Napoleonic invasion in the early 19th century where numerous monuments of Mérida (and of Extremadura) were destroyed or damaged.

Mérida preserves more important ancient Roman monuments than any other city in Spain, including the Roman Theatre, which was erected in the first century B.C. and can seat 6,000 people. Next to it is the Amphitheatre, a stage where gladiators wrestled with savage beasts. As a matter of fact, the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

With our tight itinerary and limited time, we missed several of Merida's other sights such as the Roman Bridge, which crosses the Guadiana River and stands out for its monumental size — 800 metres long with 60 arches. We also missed the Museo Nacional de Arte Romano (National Museum of Roman Art), which houses more than 36,000 artifacts — all of which were found in Merida and its vicinity.

At the end of the day, and after many hours of driving, we were happy enough to just spend a few hours roaming the impressive Roman Theater (with my Lumix GH4 in hand). We'll leave all that other stuff for the next time we visit the beautiful medieval region of Extremadura. Enjoy the photographs...

Mérida

Mérida

The Amphitheatre of Mérida was completed in 8 BC and had a capacity of approximately 15,000 spectators. The sand-covered arena in the centre had a fossa bestiaria in the center, which was covered with wood and sand. This fossa was used to house animals before they were released into the arena ("Are you not entertained?!!!")

Mérida

We then walked over and descended the steps that lead to the stage of the Roman Theatre (that's what the guy with the pink shirt is busy photographing)

Mérida

Mérida

Mérida

The Roman Theatre of Mérida was constructed in the years 16 to 15 BCE with a seating capacity of 6,000. Besides being the most visited monument in the city, it has been home to the development of the Festival de Mérida (Festival of Classical Theatre of Mérida) since 1933. The Mérida Classical Theatre Festival is the oldest of its kind celebrated in Spain.

Mérida

A man admires one of the ancient entrances to the theatre...

Mérida

Mérida

Apparently, Mérida's Roman Theatre is also an ideal spot for wedding photographs...

Mérida

Mérida

Mérida

Mérida

Mérida

Images from the impressive stage of the Roman Theatre...

Mérida

View into the theatre from behind the stage...

Mérida

As the sun began to set, we said goodbye to the Roman Theatre and promised to one day return to see the rest of Mérida. For more information on visiting this remarkable archaeological ensemble, visit turismomerida.org (and yes, the site is in English). SUBSCRIBE HERE to not miss a future post (you won't be sorry - promise!) and stay tuned for photographs from our visit to the magical city of Cáceres...

ORANGE STRIPE

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