Italica, Roman ruins near Seville
Italica, the old Roman City in Seville As mentioned in our Seville “Tourist attractions for dummies”, this enchanting city has a rich cultural heritage and varied historical past after being conquered by the Romans, the Moors, and the Greeks, amongst others.
This is demonstrated in what has been left behind, and in the way that the architecture has been influenced down to the fragments of roman ruins dotted around the city, which are casually located on main roads in the middle of the typical Sevillian districts that characterise this charming Spanish city, an indication of the city’s imperial past.
An example includes the stunning roman aqueducts located on Calle de Luis Montoto (near the El Prado bus station) which are no longer complete as they fell victim to the urbanisation of the city, however there are other less well-known and even more stunning evidence that the Romans once conquered Seville, which comprises the old Roman city, Italica.
The old Roman City, Italica located in Santiponce to be more precise comprises one of the most important and largest roman ruins in the whole of Spain. The Roman City of Italica demonstrates wonderful examples of Roman architecture, mosaic works, and the old roman city layouts. It is home to a massive amphitheatre, one of the largest in the Roman Empire surrounded by a wooded park.
Furthermore it’s in reasonably good condition and you climb the steps, step out onto the balconies, and wander through the tunnels where the gladiators would have walked, and the den which would have housed the lions. The theatre had a capacity of 20,000 spectators distributed over three tiers, and in the centre of the amphitheatre arena is a great pit which would have been covered by a wooden structure, originally used for gladiator and wild animal sports.
Roman streets are characterised by their great width and this can still be seen today in what remains of the original cobbles and guttering which have preserved very well. The street layout is of a grid pattern, forming regular squares in which would have stood public buildings and private dwellings. Several of the buildings have been uncovered to reveal intact and well preserved mosaic floors.
Finally, Italica can be distinguished into two different zones. The vetus urbs (old city), founded by Scipio and the nova urbs, founded by Hadrian. The vetus urbs now lies deep beneath the village of Santiponce but the nova urbs is here, on display to the visitor in all its imperial glory. Some of the underground drains used to provide fresh water can still be seen, and some of the houses uncovered include the House of the Planetarium with its hexagonal mosaics depicting the seven Gods that gave names to the days of the week, as well as The House of the Birds, partially restored to show what it may have looked like, and finally the House of Neptune with its warm thermal baths.
Italica can be visited everyday except Mondays, and entrance for EU citizens is free. Plus, it is only a 30 minute bus ride from the centre (Plaza de Armas bus station) and is a cheap but interesting alternative located in the charming town of Santiponce. Let’s put it this way, if we were Julius Caesar we would give this fabulous ancient Roman City a definite thumbs-up.