Saturday, March 23, 2019


Today we took a tour of the nearby Roman ruin of the city of Itálica. The city was founded in roughly 200BC, but really usurped an existing village of indigenous people. Initially, the city was down in the Guadalquivir river plain, but regular flooding forced its relocation up into the nearby hills. The part of the city we visited today was actually added later, a mere 400 years later, in 200AD. Itálica was the first Roman city on the Iberian peninsula. It seems to have thrived for about 600 years and then sort of faded away, though there have been people living around it through to this day.

It was initially unearthed in the 14th century by monks of the nearby Monasterio de San Isidoro del Campo. It didn't become a protected archeological site until the early 20th century. There's not much left above ground. The site consists mostly of foundations of homes and businesses and avenues. There are some replicas of Roman statues that have been unearthed at the site. This Venus-like statue was found half buried in a nearby village being used as a doorstop.

Entering Itálica, you hit the main avenue with the original stone pavers:

Some of the stones bear graffiti:

The first of many intricate mosaics we encountered was in the bathroom:

Here's a row of nearby toilets. I guess the Romans were a little more comfortable than us with their normal bodily functions, haha:

The rooms of various homes were easily discernible by their outlines in the foundation stones. Most remarkable were the floors of the bedrooms and other rooms that had beautiful mosaics. These intricate mosaics were like the Persian rugs we use today:

It's hard to see here, but I was most impressed by the use of different color stones. There were blue, yellow, green, red and lots of other color stones. Impressive because paint would not have lasted 2000 years:

A row of smaller rooms in a poorer section of the city:

Also impressive was the Anfiteatro de Italica. This stadium seated 25,000 people and hosted regular gladiator bouts. This site has also been used several times in the filming of Game of Thrones:

Underneath the stadium, these tunnels let service personnel and competitors get around:

After the ruins, we visited the aforementioned Monasterio de San Isidoro del Campo. Established in 1301, it has been a Catholic monastery up until recently:

The typical mix of moorish and christian art of southern Spain is in evidence here:

The style of this painting of the last supper was unusual. It is not know who painted this:

The woman in this crypt is reported to have been burned at the stake for some transgression (though it's not clear to me why she would then be buried in the church). The legend goes that during her burning, the heat from the flames lifted her skirt immodestly. Her loyal lady in waiting, jumped into the flames and died protecting her lady's modesty. She too is named and buried in this crypt:


We got home and Diego's Bar was going strong. Here you can see the last of the patrons and then closed and cleaned premises an hour later:


Putting the Whitman VPN to good use this evening watching UK play in the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament: