Ancient Roman Sites Walking Tour, Cordoba

Ancient Roman Sites Walking Tour (Self Guided), Cordoba

Under all in Cordoba lies a once redoubtable Roman strongpoint. After Scipio's defeat of the Carthaginians in Llipa, the victorious Romans set up camp by the Guadalquivir River.

Under Augustus, the city gained the status of Colonia Patricia. A perimeter wall was built touching the Guadalquivir River. There were two forums, colonial and provincial. A large amphitheater has been uncovered. There are enormous temples, including one on Claudio Marcelo Street (Calle Claudio Marcelo).

The Roman Temple (Templo Romano) on Claudio Marcelo Street was completed in the reign of Domitian (81-96 AD) and discovered in the 1950s. It was dedicated to the Emperor, and with the Circus Maximus, it was part of the Provincial Forum. The ruin has six free-standing Corinthian columns and an altar. It can be found on Capitulares Street (Calle Capitulares).

The Puente Romano (Roman Bridge) is still in use. It was built in the first century BC. It crosses the Guadalquivir River. It was built during the reign of Augustus and reconstructed by the Moorish administration in the 8th century AD. The Cordoba Archeological Museum houses remain of the Roman theatre and items from Roman Temple.

Two milestones from the ancient Augusta Road (Via Augusta) are now part of the entrance of the great Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. Traces of the church of Bishop Ossius, Saint Victor of 325 AD, are beneath the mosque. In the Victoria Gardens (Jardines de la Victoria) is the Roman mausoleum of Cordoba. It is a cylinder-shaped crenelated stone monument of the 1st century AD.

The site of the Palace of Maximianus Herculius was unearthed in the northwest corner of the city. Maximianus was Emperor from 286 to 305 AD. It was a turbulent time. The Visigoths converted it into the basilica of Martyr San Aciscio. The layout of the site is by the parking lot of today's railway station. Signs are posted.

Archeologists have concluded Roman Cordoba had three aqueducts, a circus, an amphitheater, a theatre, baths, and two forums. Of course, it had houses, too. Archeologists are still looking.
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Ancient Roman Sites Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Ancient Roman Sites Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Cordoba (See other walking tours in Cordoba)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: nataly
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Puente Romano de Cordoba (Roman Bridge of Cordoba)
  • Archaeological Museum and Roman Theatre
  • Templo Romano (Roman Temple)
  • Mausoleo Romano (Roman Mausoleum)
  • Murallas Romana de Cordoba (Roman Walls of Cordoba)
Puente Romano de Cordoba (Roman Bridge of Cordoba)

1) Puente Romano de Cordoba (Roman Bridge of Cordoba) (must see)

Spanning the Guadalquivir River is the majestically Roman Bridge of Cordoba (Puente Romano de Cordoba). At the north end is the Mosque-Cathedral. At the south end, across the river, is the fortified Calahorra Tower. The 12th-century Arab cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi claimed the bridge "surpasses all other bridges in beauty and solidity."

The Roman Bridge was constructed in the 1st century BC. The ancient Augusta Street (Via Augusta), connecting Rome to Cadiz, passed over the bridge. During the Umayyad dynasty in Spain, governor Al-Samh Ibn Malik al-Khawlani ordered the reconstruction of the old Roman structure. The rebuild had 16 arcades. It was 811 feet long with a width of 30 feet.

In the Middle Ages, the Calahorra Tower and the Gate of the Bridge were built at the Roman construction's southern and northern ends, respectively. The Gate of the Bridge is a reconstruction of the 16th-century Bridge Gate. In the 17th century, a statue of St Raphael by sculptor Bernabe Gomez del Rio was erected in the middle of the bridge. During its history, the Roman Bridge was restored and renovated several times, and only the 14th and 15th arches from the north side are original.

Major restoration work, carried out in 2006, was supervised by city architect Juan Cuenca Montilla. There has been some controversy over the renovations affecting the bridge's appearance. For example, the pink granite replaced the old paving, and the starlings, the massive breakwaters of the archway piers, were cleaned.

Sleeker-looking bollard lights replaced the 19th-century streetlights. The niches of St Acisclus and St Victoria were restored as well. In addition, the north end of the bridge was raised, making it flush with the Riverside Walk (Paseo de la Ribera).

The Roman Bridge, the Bridge Gate, and the Calahorra Tower have been Monuments of Cultural Interest since 1931 and a part of the Cordoba World Heritage Site in 1984. The Roman Bridge was featured in the popular HBO TV series Game of Thrones as the Long Bridge of Volantis.
Archaeological Museum and Roman Theatre

2) Archaeological Museum and Roman Theatre

Cordoba boasts an impressive Archaeological Museum that has been open to the public since 1965. The museum is housed in a former Renaissance-style palace that once belonged to the Páez de Castillejo family. Its main objective is to preserve, research, and showcase archaeological remains found in Cordoba and the province, ranging from prehistoric times to the period of Arabic rule known as Al-Andalus. The museum comprises eight rooms and three courtyards that display a wide range of exhibits from different periods and architectural styles, providing visitors with a glimpse of Cordoba's rich history.

In 2011, the museum underwent an expansion that included a new building adjacent to the existing one. This contemporary architectural design complements the Renaissance Palace of Jerónimo Páez and offers modern, attractive, and functional museum spaces that meet the growing demand for space and services. One of the exceptional museum pieces featured in the new building is the archaeological site of the Roman Theatre, discovered during the construction process. The Roman Theatre has been fully restored and is open to the public in the basement, making it a must-visit destination for tourists and locals alike.

The museum's collection is extensive and includes artifacts from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages, such as those from Iberian, Roman, Visigoth, Islamic, Mudéjar, Gothic, and Renaissance cultures. Notable exhibits include the Iberian Lion of Nueva Carteya and the Roman sculpture of the god Mithra, both of which have outstanding historical and artistic value. The recent extension works in the museum have uncovered the largest theatre in Roman Hispania, adding even more excitement and value to the museum's collection.

Overall, the Archaeological Museum of Cordoba is an impressive and informative place to explore the rich cultural heritage of Cordoba and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history and archaeology.
Templo Romano (Roman Temple)

3) Templo Romano (Roman Temple)

During the expansion of the Cordoba City Hall in 1950, the remains of a Roman Temple (Templo Romano) were unearthed. It was not the only temple in town, but there was none like this one. It was 105 feet long and 53 feet wide. It was estimated that construction had begun during the reign of Emperor Claudius, perhaps around 50 AD.

The fashion of the temple was Pseudoperipterus (columns engaged and embedded on the walls except in the front) and Hexastyle (six free-standing columns supporting a portico). The columns were Corinthian. The area around the temple was estimated to be the site of the town's forum when the city was titled Colonia Patricia by Rome.

The primary construction material used was high-quality marble. There was marble in the walls, columns, roof, and entablature. The temple stood by the west walls in the center of an artificial terraced square. The square was closed on three sides. The front of the temple faced the neighboring circus. The temple fell into disuse in the 4th century.

The reconstruction work of the Roman Temple was carried out in the middle of the 20th century, between the 50s and 60s, performed by the archaeologist Antonio García Bellido and the architect Félix Hernándezed. The restored ruins of the Roman Temple consist of 12 massive columns standing evenly in a 3/4 square. At night the columns are illuminated in warm, changing colors.

The remains of the building are its foundation, the stairs, the altar, and some shafts of columns and capitals. The original fragments of the temple, such as parts of drums or capitals, can be seen. Some pieces are shown in the Archeological Museum. Others are planted at various places around town, such as a fluted Corinthian column in the Plaza de la Doblas.
Mausoleo Romano (Roman Mausoleum)

4) Mausoleo Romano (Roman Mausoleum)

The Mausoleo Romano (Roman Mausoleum), a cylindrical stone funerary monument with a crenelated roof, is located in the Victoria Gardens of Cordoba. It is a chamber tomb of a style popular in the Roman Republic of the 1st century. It was discovered in 1993 during archeological excavations on the site. The mausoleum was reconstructed following the original patterns of the era.

The Roman Mausoleum is located near the old Gallegos Gate, the western gate called Left Main Gate (Porta Principalis Sinistra). A second mausoleum discovered on the site has been integrated into the area. Between the two monuments are the remains of the old Roman road to Hispalis, now called Seville.

The Roman Mausoleum is easily visible from the Victoria Gardens walkway. It is at a lower level and can be reached by a public stairway. One may visit the inside of the tomb and stop by the interpretation center within but only by appointment.

The Roman Mausoleum is a reconstruction, but it was built using original materials. A well-preserved ash urn is kept in the burial chamber. Cornices, crenelations, and casement are all original. The tomb appears to have been the monument of a wealthy family. It was well-made and prominently placed on the city walls.
Murallas Romana de Cordoba (Roman Walls of Cordoba)

5) Murallas Romana de Cordoba (Roman Walls of Cordoba)

The Roman Walls (Murallas Romana de Córdoba) surrounded Cordoba. They were almost 9,000 feet in length and made of cut stone. There was an outer wall nine feet high and a four-foot inner wall. A 20-foot gap between the outer and inner walls was filled with rubble. There were semicircular defensive towers along the external wall.

The southern wall was demolished during the reign of Augustus to extend the city limits to the river Guadalquivir. The ruins of the Roman Walls remain in the Alcazar, by the Roman Bridge and the Roman Temple. The arches next to the Sevilla Gate (Puerta de Sevilla) are part of the Roman aqueduct.

In 711 AD, seven hundred Moorish soldiers led by a Berber commander Tariq Ibn Ziyad scaled the walls at night and drove out the startled Visigoths. Since the Islamic settlements were generally without defensive walls, the Roman structure gradually crumbled. In 1236 King Fernando of Castile conquered the city after a long siege.

In the 14th century, the walls were extended parallel to the river from the Albolafia water mill north and back again, reconnecting with the old walls at the Seville Gate (Puerta de Seville). Napoleon demolished parts of the wall. Today the remaining gates are the Almodovar Gate, Seville Gate, Bridge Gate, and the 1408 Malmuerta Tower.

The Roman Walls now form part of the historic center of Córdoba, a UNESCO World Heritage site, since 1984.

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