Traveling through Andalusia, the Roman Way.
Every day thousands of motorists travel the N-IV national highway through Cordoba, Seville and Cadiz, but few pause to ponder that they are journeying on a route traced 2,000 years ago.
This is the Via Augusta, the ancient Roman Way which joined the port of Cadiz to Rome. Thanks to the Empires network of paved roadways, southern Spain Baetica to the Romans - acquired the seeds of its language, its legal system, its agriculture, its religion, enabling it to become the Empires richest and most prized possession. The empire received much in return: oil and fine wine, gold, silver and other minerals, not to mention the Cordoba-born philosopher Seneca and the emperors Trajan and Hadrian, both from Italica near Seville.
You dont have to look far to come across reminders of Andalusias enormous Roman heritage, and the newly-constituted Ruta de la Betica Roman (Roman Route of Baetica) aims to guide the traveler on a journey of discovery into a glorious past. Instigated by a consortium of ten Andalusian municipalities and headquartered in Carmona (Seville), the route, designed for the independent traveler, highlights top Roman sites in the provinces of Seville, Cadiz, Cordoba, from the city of Cadiz - which was already 1000 years old by the time the Roman legions rolled into town - to the extraordinary Roman Villa of Almedinilla (Cordoba), at the eastern end of the route; inhabited between the first and sixth centuries, it is the most outstanding example of a Roman estate in Spain. In between are some of the best preserved Roman ruins in the world, such as the city of Italica in Santiponce and the awe-inspiring Roman necropolis of Carmona.
The experience is enriched with further memories of the empire in the towns of Osuna, La Luisiana, Marchena and Almodovar del Rio. Along the way, museums help explain how Roman civilisation shaped modern Andalusia, including two recently-opened museums in Almedinilla and Ecija (Seville).
And to demonstrate that the Roman legacy is still very much alive today, the route takes in the Cadiz coast, where cured tuna continues to be a delicacy just as it was two millennia ago, and the vineyards of Jerez, whose wines were already appreciated in Rome in the historian Strabos day. It was Strabo who enthused about the sensuous gyrations of the castanet-clicking puellae gaditanae, the girls of Cadiz, whose fiery performances are recalled by the flamenco dancers of today.
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Copyright © 2000 An Andalusian Experience. Text by Mark Little. Photography by J. D. Dallet - A Freelance Spain production
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Copyright © 2000-2006 Mark and David Little & J.D. Dallet