Туристический маршрут по Кордове эпохи древних римлян проведет Вас по следам, оставшимся от времен, когда город был колонизировал и находился под властью Рима. В те времена Кордова была столицей римской колонии и носила название Кордуба. Это был один из лучших периодов в истории города: монументальные сооружения, грандиозный по размеру театр, форумы, мосты изменили внешний вид Кордовы. Часть из этого наследия можно увидеть и сегодня.
Описание маршрута на английском языке. Карта прилагается по соответствующим участкам в описании маршрута.
- Завоевание Испании
- Имперская Кордуба
- Политика и экономика Кордубы
- Маршрут Кордова эпохи римлян
- Известные люди
- Гастрономия Древнего Рима
- План маршрута
The conquest of Hispania
The conquest of Hispania by Rome was the result of the Second Punic War fought between Romans and Carthaginians for control of the western Mediterranean. The arrival of Roman troops in the Iberian Peninsula in the 3rd century B.C. was the Republic’s response to the Carthaginians’ attack which started out from the Spanish Levant and headed for Italy via the south of France. Specifically, it was in 209 B.C., after the Battle of Ilipa (now Lora del Río), that Carthage’s presence in the Peninsula was brought to an end and Rome’s ascendancy in Hispania was confirmed.
A good number of modern day Spaniards can trace their roots to that era, an era in which the territory of the Peninsula was divided into two large provinces pursuant to the administrative designs of Rome: Hispania Ulterior and Hispania Citerior.
In the 4th and 3rdcenturies B.C., Rome, a republic born in what is now Italy, forged one of the strongest states of the age with the primary objective of controlling trade on the Mediterranean Sea. In order to do so, it had to oust the rival that had controlled the Mare Nostrum up to that time: Carthage.
The push for expansion outlasted the Punic Wars and continued to the consolidation of a state, at first Republican and therafter Imperial, in which the armies played a fundamental role.
In the republican period, the Senate controlled the conquered territories through the appointment of consuls, the economies of those conquered territories were administered by an elite of Roman citizens who brought to the conquered peoples a way of life that was Roman in every respect. Later, the Empire was to control the colonies, for that purpose using a complex administrative organisation, the Roman Magistracy.
The assimilation of Roman culture in the territories of Hispania followed the same pattern as in other European lands. Indigenous peoples lived alongside Roman citizens up to the point of assimilating their social, economic, religious, political and cultural models. Hispania became one of the most Romanised provinces of the era. Latin established itself as the universal language, Roman law governed the lives of citizens and Roman polytheism took root among the native people. Its cities were organised along the lines of Rome and many important figures in the political and cultural life of the Republic and, later, the Empire were born in those cities.
Furthermore, Hispania became the stage for those bellicose conflicts which rocked Rome, and it saw the same process of Christianisation as affected the Empire shortly before its break up.
Modern Cordoba, as we know it, is the product of the coexistence of the original settlement of pre-Roman Corduba – sited on the Colina de los Quemados (the Parque Cruz Conde) – alongside the city founded by the general Claudius Marcelus in the 2nd century B.C. in the area that nowadays is the commercial centre of the city, an essentially flat area protected by slopes and a series of streams. As the years went by, the original settlement was absorbed into the Roman city.
Little evidence remains of Republican Corduba as the amount of building work in the area has impeded in-depth archaeological excavation. Indeed, since the time when Rome chose to found the city, the site has never been abandoned as was the case with pre-Roman Corduba. Another reason for the scarcity of physical evidence (there are more than a few written references) of Republican Corduba lies a few decades later in its history. Having sided with the sons of Pompey, the city was besieged by Caesar in 45 B.C. following the Battle of Munda. The siege ended in the destruction of the city’s streets and buildings, and 20,000 dead Cordubans. For that reason, most of the evidence of Rome’s presence in the city dates from the Imperial period when Corduba regained the favour of Emperor Augustus and set about erecting monuments fitting of a capital – the capital of the province of Baetica – and a Colonia Patricia.
The first references to Corduba appear in the works of the geographer Strabo who explains the leading role of general Claudius Marcellus in the founding of the city, the exact date of which is unknown. Historians point to two possible dates which coincide with the two stays of the general in Hispania: 169-168 B.C. and 152-151 B.C., although some researchers maintain that there was a permanent Roman camp in the area which controlled the Guadalquivir and routes through the centre of what is now Andalusia. It is a theory refuted by other specialists.
Whatever the date may have been, Strabo clarifies that the city was founded and settled with Roman citizens, and there was an indigenous elite which probably controlled the economy. It has been proven that the two Cordubas lived side by side for decades, although with the passage of time the settlement on Colina de los Quemados came to be abandoned and the population organised itself into two vicus (neighbourhoods): the hispanus, where the indigenous population lived, and the forensis, reserved for Roman citizens.
The city’s layout stems from those years. Cordoba is still set out along Roman lines as characterised by the regularity of its streets and the surrounding walls, parts of which remain. Although the walls’ original construction disappeared under the continuous additions of later years, the plan drawn up by Rome in the Republican period has endured over the centuries, albeit with several extensions. According to archaeological studies, the first walls of Cordoba were hexagonal in shape with a perimeter of 2,650 metres, enclosing an area of 47 hectares.
While the date of construction of the city’s first bridge is uncertain (some researchers date it to the second century B.C.), there is a clear reference to it in the chronicles of the war of 45 B.C. Today, however, the Roman Bridge of Cordoba does not display any original elements dating from the period.
There are references to Corduba in numerous other chronicles of the age – such as Cicero’s writings in which he tells of a trial held by a Praetor in the city’s Forum – and in texts signed by Julius Caesar himself. They of course refer to Corduba’s role as Caesar’s enemy aligned with the sons of Pompey during the civil war that devastated Rome in the first century B.C.
In his Bellum Civile, Caesar tells how the citizens of Corduba initially decided to align themselves with his troops only to switch sides later and join with the rebels against the legate whom Caesar had left in the city, consequently approving the return of the Pompeians. That support cost the city a siege by Caesar’s troops, the deaths of thousands of soldiers and civilians, and the sale into slavery of many of its citizens. A good example of the steps people took to avoid that tragic fate is the case of Scapula to whom Caesar refers in his Bellum Hispaniense. Caesar tells us that on seeing how Caesar’s soldiers were set to sack the city, Scapula decided to hold a great banquet, distribute his wealth among his slaves, and commit suicide before the army arrived.
It was immediately after the total destruction of the middle of the 1st century B.C. that Corduba entered its era of greatest splendour thanks to the reconstruction of the city: the wall was opened up towards the south, increasing the area of the city within the walls from 47 to 78 hectares, and new gates were constructed. Building work began on majestic buildings dedicated to entertainment and on new forums which formed public centres fitting of the Empire, and which were of administrative, judicial and religious character.
Corduba was confirmed as the capital of the province of Baetica in the Imperial age, following the administrative reforms implemented by Emperor Augustus who, despite the city’s Pompeyan past, showed favour towards the city by confirming it as Colonia Patricia and choosing it to settle military veterans in their retirement.
As Colonia Patricia, Corduba enjoyed an important degree of administrative autonomy from the 1st century B.C. onwards. The highest authority in the city was the local, made up of the decurions – members of the richest and most prestigious families – who were responsible for issuing decrees, appointing priests, approving the city’s budget, authorising public works and granting honours to citizens. The organisation of the city was a mirror image of the capital, Rome, with the same political figures and characters, as well as the same social classes: nobles and decurions, free men, slaves and prosperous freed slaves. Two of the most important figures in the city’s history belonged to the ranks of the Corduban nobilty: Lucius Annaeus Seneca and his nephew, the poet Lucanus.
Politics and the economy
The thriving economy of Corduba was based on mining (in the mountains), trade via the Guadalquivir, and pastoral and arable farming, specifically the cultivation of cereals and olives. The importance of olive oil production in Corduba must be underlined. It is evidenced by Monte Testaccio in Rome where millions of empty olive oil amphorae from Baetica bear witness to the trade between the Roman metropolis and Corduba.
Corduba continued to be politically relevant in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. One of the best illustrations of that fact is the choice of the city by Emperor Maximian as a base from which to organise campaigns against assailants who were attacking the Empire from North Africa and the Atlantic coast. The greatest testimony to that age is the Palace of Maximian, discovered in Cordoba at the start of the 1990s and still being studied. In the first half of the 4th century, Corduba continued to provide the Empire with key political figures. Bishop Osius enjoyed prominence as councillor to Constantine, the emperor who established Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire.
The end of Roman Corduba came in the 5th and 6th centuries. After the barbarian invasions, the city remained under the control of the Visigothic kings despite several attempts at rebellion.
It is not easy to recognise Cordoba’s Roman past simply by searching for large monuments like those which endure in the city from other periods. However, by allowing enough time to explore, and making use of this guide and the suggestions it contains, residents and visitors alike can discover the splendour of Cordoba’s Roman past.
Маршрут Кордова эпохи римлян
1. The Roman Bridge
Cordoba’s Roman bridge is an excellent example of how a city can adapt to its times by making full use of the legacy of past civilisations. The first people to build a bridge on the site were Roman citizens of the first century. The same crossing was being used two thousand years later. Over the centuries that followed, Visigoths, Muslims and Christians continued to use the bridge to cross into the city.
According to current research, the first crossing over the Guadalquivir in this area was actually a wooden bridge. Following information provided by bibliographical documents, archaeologists state that, despite references to the bridge which date from the first century B.C., the building of a bridge with arches must have taken place in the 1st century A.D., coinciding with the reorganisation of the Imperial road network.
Thus, Corduba possessed a bridge built according to the architectural model of the period although there is barely any data about its original structure. The bridge that can be crossed today does not in fact retain any visible element from that era, having been subjected to numerous repairs. The first important repairs known were ordered by Caliph Al-Hakam II in 971 and the last took place between 2006 and 2007. Nevertheless, none of them changed the original appearance of the bridge, conserving it as an authentic symbol of the city which was Cordoba and which its citizens of today have inherited. The crossing over the River Guadalquivir was fundamental to the development of Corduba, just as it continues to be today.
The bridge was a fundamental part of the road network that connected Corduba with the major cities of Hispania, being the point of entrance of the Vía Augusta Rome and the other cities of the Empire) into the Colonia Patricia. The current national highway IV follows the route of the road that ran between Corduba and Gades (Cadiz).
It is not the only route that has continued to be used over the years. The communications network designed by Rome to facilitate the transport of mined products from the mountains and the movement of livestock from the countryside remains practically the same today. Corduba had two principal roads: one to Malaca (Malaga) — the current highway 331; and another to Emerita (Merida) — the current highway 432.
2. The milestones of the Patio de los Naranjos
Inscriptions found on milestones – great blocks of stone that marked the distances between cities – have been vital for historians when reconstructing the road network.
Cordoba currently retains four such milestones from the Via Augusta in the Patio de los Naranjos of the Mezquita. They date from the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula and Caracalla, respectively. Heading up Calle Encarnación from the Mezquita, it is possible to find another milestone at the junction with Calle Rey Heredia.
3. The mosaics and sarcophagus of the Alcazar
The Alcazar of the Christian Kings contains one of the most important collections of Roman mosaics in the city. The mosaics were found in what was a noble’s house during excavation work in the Plaza de la Corredera. The collection in the Mosaics Room gives a general view of the techniques and aesthetics of the period. Noteworthy depictions include Polyphemus and Galatea, inspired by Hellenic literature, The Cyclops, The Medusa, Cupid and Psyche, The Mask of Oceanus and a portrayal of an actor of tragedies, one of the first representations of the theatre, in clear allusion to the play Oedipus.
The Alcazar’s Roman collection is rounded off with a sarcophagus from the third century A.D. discovered in July 1958 during excavation of a building site in the Huerta de San Rafael. The sarcophagus depicts the doorway to the next world, revealing a number of Roman beliefs about death.
4. Roman tomb at the Puerta de Sevilla
One of the best-known examples of Roman Corduban funerary design is found a few metres from the Alcazar, next to Puerta de Sevilla, a gate of the city walls. It consists of the remains of a Roman tomb, in truth a funerary monument, found on what was the old road to Carbula (Almodóvar), now Calle Antonio Maura. It was discovered in the 1930s and is one of the city’s best examples of a Western necropolis. In this case, only the rectangular chamber and vault remain.
5. Statue of Seneca in the Puerta de Almodóvar
The statue erected in the 20th century to Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the Corduban philosopher who became Nero’s tutor (see the section on famous people) is found at another of the city’s historic gateways. The work of the sculptor Amadeo Ruiz Olmos, it was paid for by the bullfighter Manuel Benítez “El Cordobés” and inaugurated on 13th September 1965 to mark the anniversary of the philosopher’s death in 65 A.D.
6. The Roman amphitheatre
The buildings dedicated to shows and performances were a key part of the process of monument building registered in Corduba after it was refounded in the Imperial period. Following Rome as a model, the capital of Baetica bestowed its citizens with the same privileges. And performances were considered to be privileges as they had an important religious significance during the period; they were customarily held in honour of one of the Roman divinities and people deemed participation in them to be almost obligatory.
The last of the recreational buildings discovered in Cordoba consists of the remains of the amphitheatre found at the rear of the Vice-Chancellor’s Building of the University of Cordoba, before the Veterinary Faculty. It is an impressive building. A part of the wall of the stands has been recovered and virtually all its layout has been plotted.
For years the amphitheatre has been the great mystery of Cordoba. When its remains appeared, researchers came to the belief that it was a second circus, but the 19 funerary inscriptions of gladiators conserved in Cordoba proved that the city must have held numerous gladitorial shows. They were hosted in an impressive amphitheatre, the biggest in Hispania and one of the largest in the Empire which according to initial studies had room for some 30,000 spectators and 178 metres on its greater axis, only nine less than the famous Colosseum of Rome.
Its construction is dated to around the middle of the 1st century A.D. and it was in use until the 4th century when the Christianisation of the Empire put an end to Roman shows. As in other Roman cities, Corduba’s amphitheatre was reserved for bloodthirsty spectacles. Gladiators and wild beasts took to the sand while city dignatories enjoyed from the stand.
Like the circus and the theatre, the amphitheatre had seats reserved for noble citizens. The main entrance stood at the end of a road over fifteen metres wide which was lined with arcades and had three sewers.
The restoration of the amphitheatre – still closed to the public – and the surrounding area is one of the challenges facing the authorities and the University. They plan the creation of a visitor centre next to the building which will contribute to a better understanding of Corduba.
7. Street with drains from the High Imperial period in Calle Ximénez de Quesada
Together with Hispania’s biggest amphitheatre, a street network and several insulae (blocks delimited by streets), both from the High Imperial period, were discovered in Calle Antonio Maura at the corner with Calle Ximénez de Quesada.
As regards that urban street plan, it is worth noting the discovery of three secondary streets and a main street 15 metres wide with arcades – through which one could walk – on both sides. Given its proximity to the public entertainment building mentioned above, it can be deduced that it was a most important route which facilitated public access to the amphitheatre sited outside the city walls.
Further, the road was provided with a water supply and a network of sewers (one in the middle and one to either side) for the disposal of waste. The sewers had a wall to either side and a small cover that was gabled in shape. Similarly, it has been established that the sewers were connected to the surface by a number of square-shaped manholes that allowed access for maintenance purposes.
Next to the main street, three secondary streets have been documented: two narrower streets (each one four and one-half metres wide) perpendicular to the main street and another that was four metres wide. It has ascertained that to the north of the main street there was an insula where an industrial area was located (with structures for decanting and pressing, and piping), together with other areas that can be linked to the sites of houses.
The significance of the remains found on the site has decided their conservation and enhanced the value of the basements of the building that the property developer Prasa has built on the site. The development’s design allows for the incorporation of the High Imperial street, with its boundary walls, sewers and manholes, and includes a visitor area around the perimeter.
8. Funerary monument of Puerta Gallegos
One of the city’s most interesting visitor centres is dedicated to the world of Roman funerals. It is located within one of the mausoleums found in Paseo de la Victoria. It offers an overall view of the funerary practices and customs of the Roman world. Its surroundings have been planted to recreate the surroundings of a burial plot of the period.
The citizens of Cordoba, in particular noble families and freed slaves, customarily buried their dead in large monuments sited on the main access routes into the city. That arrangement allowed them to display their nobility to people entering or leaving the capital, which was the aim of those who ordered the construction of the funerary monuments mentioned above: the sarcophagus kept in the Alcazar and the tomb of Puerta de Sevilla.
9. The wall at Ronda de los Tejares
Corduba was fortified from its very beginning. Its enviable location in a strategic part of the Guadalquivir Valley dictated that its founders had to defend it against possible attacks. Researchers have succeeded in ascertaining the outline of the walls of Republican Corduba (just over two and one-half kilometres long), together with the extension carried out after the refounding of the city in the Imperial period, the inflection point of which is found at number 59 of Avenida de La Victoria.
The perimeter as documented coincides almost exactly with the walls that the city has always had. Once again, the civilisations which came after Rome made full use of the legacy of the Colonia Patricia, utilising Rome’s design to protect themselves.
The process that archaeologists call “fossilisation” of the walls is more than evident in the current urban layout of the city. At Avenida de La Victoria and Avenida Ronda, the walls’ west and north sides, respectively, remain almost intact. Currently, the remains of the walls can be seen in a bank office in Avenida Ronda.
On its south side, the wall ran parallel to the river, along what is now the Paseo de la Ribera. Close by, a part of the wall from the Imperial period has been documented in the Alcazar of the Christian Kings. The east side is the least visible because of the high density of construction in the area and the continual extensions to the Visigothic, Arabic and Christian city that were made by building in this part of the city. However, there are visible remains of the original wall in Calle San Fernando.
Within the walls, researchers have successfully documented an extensive layout of streets and squares which, like Rome, followed a harmonic pattern, crossing the city from north to south and east to west (cardines and decumani, respectively), and connecting the principal gates of the city such as Puerta Osario to the north, Puerta del Rincón to the north east, and the gate on the west side, now called Puerta Gallegos, which up to the Middle Ages was known as Puerta de Roma, in the east side, besides de Town Hall.
10. Aqueduct at the coach station
Public engineering works were one of the most important legacies that Rome bequeathed to Corduba. From amongst them, most noteworthy is the design of the water supply system after the Augustan refounding of the city. Today, it is possible to know of that system thanks to the remains of the aqueduct that are incorporated into the new coach station.
The original Latin name of the conduit is unknown although there are texts from the Middle Ages in which it is dubbed Fuente Áurea. The visible remains of the aqueduct at the station retain almost intact the key parts of the design devised by Roman engineers. The water pressure and distribution system can be seen thanks to repair work that kept it operating until the 10th century and also later restoration work following which it continued to supply water to some of the fountains of the Cathedral Chapter until the 20th century.
There is a second example: the city’s first aqueduct, the Auqua Augusta, renamed as Aqua Vetus, reused by the Umayyad Caliphate to supply Madinat Al-Zahara and for centuries known as the aqueduct of Valdepuentes. This colossal public work served to provide water to the city on a daily basis, with the capacity to carry between 20,000 and 35,000 cubic metres every day from the mountains to the numerous fountains and houses of Corduba. Today it is possible to visit part of that aqueduct next to the shopping centre La Sierra.
11. Palace of Maximian
The Palace of Maximian (Palatium Maximiani) is incorporated into the archaeological site of Cercadillas and located in the area of the train station. Covering an area of 8 hectares and around 500 metres in length, it is the largest and most important evidence from ancient times documented in the city.
Its construction was ordered by Emperor Maximian at the end of the 3rd century/beginning of the 4th century A.D. in accordance with an architectural model consisting of the grouping together of the different buildings and outbuildings, arranged around a large semicircular plaza. The main building, used for official ceremonies, had its own hot water supply reserved for the emperor and his closest family members and supporters. Next to that official building were two halls used to receive members of the Imperial court or high-ranking dignatories. At present, one of them can be visited. Part of its elevation and paving – again made using mosaics as in noble households – has been conserved.
The size and originality of the palatial complex, in which new architectonic formulae were tested, prove the political relevance of Corduba in the Late Imperial period. Until the discovery of the Palace of Maximian in 1991, no building with such characteristics was known to have existed in Hispania. The nearest equivalents are found in Milan and Trier (Germany).
Prior to 1991, researchers had not be able to establish that the Tetriach, the political system that governed the Empire following Diocletian’s reforms and which demanded the decentralisation of the imperial residence, had relocated to such a far off place. After more than a decade of excavations, researchers believe that the palace located at Cercadillas served as the emperor’s residence in 296 and 297 A.D., prior to the start of a new campaign to pacify northern Africa.
The site at Cercadillas is equally a most revealing source of information about the Christianisation of the Roman Empire. Found among its buildings are a place of worship, an early Christian chapel dedicated to one of the Cordoban martyrs, and a Christian necropolis. Using evidence from both, it has been possible to research a good part of the history of the early bishops of the city which, like the other capitals of the Empire, was undergoing radical political and social change at that time.
12. Seneca and Nero in Avenida Llanos del Pretorio
Moving along Paseo de Córdoba, Avenida Llanos del Pretorio has one of the sculptures that best exemplify Cordoba’s Roman past. It is a copy in bronze of the statue that depicts the relationship between Nero and his tutor, Seneca. The original, entitled The education of Nero and created in 1904 by the Zamoran sculpturer Eduardo Barrón González, presided over the main entrance to Cordoba’s City Hall for decades until it was recently returned to the Prado Museum, the owner of the piece. The sculpture was awarded the Gold Medal at the national exhibition in 1904.
13. Roman villa in Santa Rosa
The north of the city is home to a multitude of Roman villas, for example, the luxurious patrician’s home found in the Santa Rosa neighbourhood to the north of Paseo de Córdoba, between Calle Algarrobo and Calle Cronista Rey Díaz.
It is a Roman villa from the 2nd century and the best-preserved example from the Roman era currently found in the city. Its remains are divided over two sites separated by a street.
The house boasts mosaics that stand out for their beauty, artistic value and state of conservation. These mosaics which embellish the floors of several of the villa’s outbuildings, give an idea of the tastes of the Roman age through their iconography: vegetative, geometric and figurative. In particular, the two rooms that complete this villa dating from Hadrian’s reign – the tablinum (office) and the cubiculum (bedroom) – stand out for the good state of conservation of their mosaics.
The mosaic which decorates the floor of the tablinum is figurative and of mythological character. Chronos, the Greek god of time who in the Roman period came to be known as Saturn, is shown in the centre. His figure appears with a cornucopia in one hand and a cyclical hoop, symbolising the passage of time, in the other. Around him, in the various corners of the work, appear the four seasons depicted in feminine form. The mosaic, of great artistic value, is fnished off with various scenes of fights between animals such as leopards, horses, gazelles and bulls which may be a reflection of the pastimes of the age.
The paving in the cubiculum or bedroom is covered with a mosaic in white and blue. There is a krater in good condition at the entrance to the room. The area where the bed was sited is framed with octagons and the decoration of that space includes diverse geometric motifs.
The triclinium (dining room) is paved with marble – opus sectile – with geometric and vegetative decoration made with materials imported from Africa and Italy, a fact which highlights the considerable economic power of the villa’s owner.
Similarly, the peristilo (open patio) is conserved, measuring 7.40 by 7.40 metres, with a perimeter platform paved with mosaics. The tesserae that decorate the patio, made of stone, marble and limestone, make up geometric motifs of a distinctive style over a space 2.20 metres wide.
The central patio has two large-sized mosaics. The mosaic bordering the fountain located in the centre of the space is bicoloured and has eastern influences. A multi-coloured opus tesellatum is revealed inside the fountain, depicting all manner of marine animal.
This open space was also decorated with 12 marble columns of which only the bases and some other fragments can be seen, the origins of which are still unknown. Furthermore, the remains of a swimming pool, a fountain, a nymphaeum and various water conduits have been uncovered.
The remains have been incorporated into residential buildings to be constructed on the two sites occupied by the Roman villa so as to preserve it in situ. Those remains will be enhanced and will be ready for visits in the near future, with an entrance separate from the rest of the building. Thus, all the elements of the Roman villa or at least the most important parts will be accessible, as is the case in other parts of the province, for example, the Villa del Ruedo in Almedinilla.
14. Mausoleum of the Palacio de la Merced
The interor of the Palacio de la Merced, the current seat of the Provincial Council of Cordoba, houses one of the most outstanding funerary monuments bequeathed to us by
Roman Corduba. It is the tomb of a freed slave and doctor of a mining company that operated in the mountains. Today, the chamber remains, with a facade three metres in length and extending back some five metres, along with an enclosure that lead to a building above which was of monumental character and was most likely used for funeral banquets. The close proximity of the tomb to one of the main gates of the city gives an idea of the nobility of the deceased and his social importance.
15. The Roman house at Bailío
Domestic architecture in Corduba followed models laid down by Rome. Thus, in the period when Corduba was founded, simple buildings were prevalent in the city, often with only one floor and with thatched roofs. As the centuries went by, buildings became more complex and a wider variety of building materials were used to construct examples like the house found during excavations prior to the construction of the hotel Palacio del Bailío in Calle Ramírez de las Casas Deza. This Roman house will soon be recovered and opened to visitors. Currently, a glimpse of it can be had through the transparent floor of one of the palace’s patios.
As in almost all similar domus, the mosaics provide the best-preserved evidence that we have of the houses found in the various neighbourhoods or vici of Corduba, an excellent example of such evidence being the collection kept in the Alcazar of the Christian Kings.
The number of neighbourhoods increased after the refounding of the city. In times of war, it was necessary to seek shelter within the city walls. In times of peace, that is, during the days of the Empire, Roman citizens and freed slaves left the protection of the walls and built truly residential neighbourhoods outside them. One of the last vici to be documented is in the northern part of the city in the neighbourhood of Huerta de San Rafael.
16. Roman temple
The Roman temple on Calle Claudio Marcelo is one of the monuments that best allows the visitor to visualise the magnificence of Cordoba’s Roman past, in part thanks to the rebuilding carried out in the middle of the 20th century. The temple was built to worship the emperor who by that time had been elevated to divine status and was considered to be the protector of the city. Work on it was begun on the orders of Emperor Claudius in the first half of the 1st century and it was completed by the end of the century under the auspices of Emperor Domitian.
The building was raised over a wall which acted as a buttress. A part of it is visible in Calle Capitulares. The majority of authors agree that this temple formed part of a large complex: the Provincial Forum, and was built for propaganda purposes considering that the temple was clearly visible to visitors arriving at the city along the Via Augusta. The temple has one floor and dimensions of 32 by 16 metres, reaching a height of more than 15 metres.
17. The Public Forums
The Provincial Forum is not the only forum documented in Corduba. According to researchers, the city had at least two others: the Forum of the Colonia, located at the junction of Calle Góngora and Calle Cruz Conde, and the Forum Adiectum, researched more recently, which was built either towards the end of Augustus’s reign or at at the start of Tiberius’s. It was located in Calle Morería by the headquarters of the local Bar Association which retains the remains of one of the Forum’s columns.
Experts say that the Forum of the Colonia must have had its own temple and some believe its remains lie under the Church of San Miguel. The Forum Adiectum was the result of the new demands of the refounded city. The increase in administrative and commercial activity obliged the local authorities to enlarge the infrastructure used in public life. According to experts, that was achieved through the building of a new forum that would have been dedicated to the dynasty reigning in the first century A.D. The new forum was set around a large square, part of the paving of which has been found in Calle Braulio La Portilla.
Further, excavations carried out in the surroundings of Altos de Santa Ana brought numerous statues and pedestals to light. Some are kept in the nearby Museum of Archaeology and they prove the existence of a third place of worship. Experts cannot agree if it was dedicated to Diana or, once again, to the imperial cult. The new forum was organised around a big temple whose podium has been found in Moreria street, in the present seat of the Colegio de Abogados.
In Corduba, there were also an important number of other public squares where the day to day lives of the citizens were played out. One of the most important of those discovered is located in the area of Puerta del Puente, at the southern extreme of the Colonia Patricia.
18. Calle Junio Galion
The social relevancy of the family Annei to which belonged Seneca and Lucano supposes one of the milestones of the Roman past of Cordova. Its historical recognition has not been scanty, though in occasions has remained darkened by both big mentioned figures. Because of that, it turns out to be prominent to find in full historical hull of the city a street dedicated to other one of the big prominent figures of the family: Lucio Junio Anneo Galión, to whom in the decade of the sixties the city dedicated one of the most curious alleys that remained sadly closed from the eighties until scantily a few years ago when there was carried out a rehabilitation of its environment that managed to return to it the whole captivation that had in the past.
The street Junio Galión, placed between the streets San Fernando and San Eulogio, recalls the figure of the major brother of the philosopher Lucio Anneo Seneca and of the geographer Marco Anneo Mella, father of the poet Lucano. June Galión, he was a proconsul in Acaya in times of the emperor Claudio, where he had the opportunity to free Paul of Tarsus (Saint Paul) of the death that Jews had sentenced him. About him Seneca was speaking in his work Quaestiones Naturales, where congratulated of his human qualities and he was managing to describe him as “a universally dear man”.
19. The circus
As in the rest of the Empire, the circus games, in truth chariot races between drivers who became stars of their age, were a reality in Cordoba until the 4th century A.D as proven by the various epigraphical inscriptions and mosaics found around the city and, most importantly, the structures in the garden of the Palacio de Orive at No. 2, Plaza de Orive. Those structures correspond to the walls that supported the stands of the first circus of Corduba. It was a building of a symmetrical design like other circuses in Hispania, for example, the circus at Tarraco.
Corduba’s circus ran from the temple in Calle Claudio Marcelo – in reality it was part of the enormous religious, political and social complex that was the Forum of the Provincia – to the vicinity of the Plaza de la Corredera, an area where equestrian shows were held for centuries. It was in use from from middle Ist century aC to the end of the IInd century. At that time the games were transferred to a second circus of which there is documentary evidence but no archaeological remains have been found which confirm its location.
20. Togaed statue in the Plaza de Séneca
Sculpture was one of the most important art forms in the history of Rome. The proliferation of statutes in cities of the Republic and, later, the Empire was a major feature of the adornment of them with monuments, and Cordoba was not outside that process. Images of gods, emperors and noble citizens decorated its streets and squares, and provided an excellent method of disseminating propaganda.
Today, the majority of those statues have disappeared or are kept in the Museum of Archaeology, although there is one example visible to the passer-by which gives an idea of the value attached to sculpture in the Roman world. It is a togaed sculpture realised in white marble and sited on a pedestal of modern execution in the Plaza de Séneca. It is popularly known as “El Descabezado” (“The Headless”). The costume worn by the unknown person (his face is missing and there is no epigraphical inscription to facilitate identification) is the same as customarily worn by Roman magistrates. Around the end of 1st century (the date usually attributed to the piece by experts) and the beginning of the 2nd century, such statues became fairly common in Rome. The bodies were mass-produced and later the bust of the person it was wished to portray was put on top of them.
21. The theatre
Roman entertainment also included dramatic performances (ludi scaenici). Theatres were built along the same lines: semicircular stands (cavea) closed off by a construction which staged the theatrical depicition (scaena). The Roman theatre of Corduba followed that model. A part of it has been recovered, located under Museum of Archaeology in Plaza Jerónimo Páez. To date, archaeological excavations have uncovered 30% of the total area of the theatre although only a part of the stands has been found and it remains unknown what they were like. At present, only the remains conserved within the Museum may be visited, although an important part of the adjoining excavations will soon be open to the public. The dimensions of the theatre – it was the largest in Hispania – give an idea of the importance of dramatic performances in city life. The terracing had a radius of approximately 125 metres and the stands could hold between 10,000 and 15,000 spectators who gained access through the stands of joined terraces that served as an antechamber.
Life in and around the theatre tells us a great deal about many aspects of social life in ancient Corduba. The inscriptions reserving seats or found on honorific pedestals give an idea of the social importance of some of the most notable families in the city, like the Annei, the dynasty which produced two of Corduba’s most memorable figures, Seneca and his nephew Lucanus, the Mercelloness Persinii and the Numisi.
In Calle Rey Heredia it is possible to study an inscription to one of the patrons who contributed to the building of the theatre. Like the circus and the amphitheatre, it ended up as source of stone for new buildings following the disappearance of Roman entertainment from Hispania.
Although it may appear that traces of Corduba are scattered about, some disappeared, some hidden, and an important number under restoration, a different and contrary picture is presented by the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology of Cordoba. Hundreds of pieces present themselves to the visitor as irrefutable proof of the illustrious history and glorious monuments of Roman Corduba, starting with the remains of the theatre under the Renaissance palace that houses the Museum. A scale model of the theatre is the first piece on display.
Moving on from the entrance, the collection of Roman archaeology displays a multitude of architectonic pieces, many of them from the temple in Calle Claudio Marcelo, as well as a number of statues and a collection of mosaics. These are exhibited in the second patio of the museum and among them stand out El Cortejo Báquico (The Bacchanalian Entourage), La Loba Capitolina (The Capitoline Wolf), Pegaso (Pegasus) and Las Cuatro Estaciones (The Four Seasons).
The Archaeological Museum of Cordova possesses in addition one of three portraits of the empress Livia, grandmother of Claudio, who have been achieved to document in the Roman Baetica. The second one of them is in Baena, inside the group “ The Abundance “, in which she appears with the hairdo of nodus; and the third one, in Cadiz, proceeding from Medina Sidonia.
Statues of note include those of the goddesses Fortuna, Diana and Minerva, the god Bacchus, and particularly the statue of “Afrodita agachada” (Aphrodite bending down), a sculpture whose purpose is unknown although it relates to a fountain or an aquatic monument of some sort. Dating from 138-192 A.D., it is a copy of the Greek model of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who was assimilated by the Romans as Venus. Next to her, Mitras Tauróctonos, a sculpture in homage to the Persian Sun God which reveals a certain eastern influence in the religion of Hispania, and a thorataco sculpture which was kept for years in a private residence in Calle Morería where it was found in the 19th century. before being moved to the museum. A colossal piece that must have formed part of the Forum of the Colonia, it stands almost two metres tall despite only being a torso. It depicts a heroic soldier and is believed to be a portrayal of Aeneas at the moment of his flight from Troy.
The collection of Roman sculptures is completed with a number of portraits and depictions of the nobility of Corduba and its neighbouring cities, all pertaining to the area that is now the Province of Cordoba, and the Emperor and his family, for example, Druso, el menor (Drusus the Younger), son of Emperor Tiberius, and Annia Lucila (Annia Lucilla), daughter of Marcus Aurelius whose portrait is also found among the pieces in the Museum of Archaeology. Corduba is also revealed through the various epigraphs that have been conserved and which provide countless details of the social, political and religious life of the city. The homage to one of the patrons of the various Roman shows, the seat reservation in the theatre and the diverse funerary epigraphs tell us much of the leading figures of Roman Cordoba. Indeed, the collection of funerary remains is one of the great treasures of the musuem. One of its rooms contains a reproduction of a columbarium and there is also an early Christian sarcophagus of enormous historical value.
Finally, it is worth paying particular attention to the pieces which recall the ordinary lives of Roman citizens such as the glass figures, ceramics, lamps and amphorae which transported wine and olive oil from the Colonia Patricia to the metropolis, Rome. There is a curious marble carving which must have formed one of the legs of a table in a noble’s home which the Museum keeps next to a fragment of Seneca’s work Invitation to Serenity which says, “We should become accustomed to ridding ourselves of pomp and to value the usefulness of things, not their adornments.”
In order to discover what daily life was like in Roman Baetica, it is obligatory to tour the room dedicated to the villa of El Ruedo de Almedinilla, an agricultural and residential complex which belonged to Roman citizen and was built between the 1st and 4th centuries.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the philosopher
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Corduban whose story and works endure 2,000 years after his death. Senaca was born in 4 B.C. into one of the most well-to-do families in the city, the Annei. Son of one of the most distinguished rhetoricians in the Empire, he was educated in Rome and came to occupy some of the most important offices in the Roman magistracy, being first appointed Quaestor (treasury official responsible for the administration of public funds) and later tutor to the Emperor. His appointment to the former, influenced by his family, took place in 51 A.D. Ten years later, he was exiled to Corsica on the orders of Caligula who was troubled by the prominence that Senenca had acquired. However, the Corduban philosopher fell back in favour with the Imperial family, becoming, first, tutor and later councillor to Emperor Nero.
A large sculpture that for years stood in the City Hall of Cordoba and is now found in Llanos del Pretorio recalls that time with its portrayal of both figures. That idyllic situation did not last for long. The alleged participation of Seneca in a plot against the Emperor lead to the philosopher’s enforced suicide at home – he preferred to end his own life than be executed – in 65 A.D.
Seneca’s philosophical works cover a wide range of subjects. He did not write a philosophical synopsis but rather set out his philosophy over all his writings, including those concerning nature. Educated in the stoicism prevalent in his period, he came to hold thoughts and beliefs from other not only different but opposite schools of thought. His principal objective was to put men on the path to virtue, seeking to persuade them to think and act with integrity. He never tried in his works to demonstrate a unique truth but rather to bring men nearer to a world of the upstanding.
His works can be divided into four categories: the Dialogues (10 texts of which On Anger is particularly outstanding), the Letters, the Tragedies and the Epigrams. During his retirement from politics, he also wrote a book entitled Natural Questions.
Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, the poet
Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, born in Corduba in 39 A.D. and nephew of Seneca, was a leading poet of the age and one of the youngest writers to secure fame. He was made Poet Laureate by the same Emperor Nero who appointed him as Quaestor before he was legally old enough to hold that office. Lucanus was educated by his uncle Seneca in Rome and by the age of 16 could recite poetry in Greek and Latin, and was the author of various works, although only Farsalia is extant, a lengthy poem that narrates the wars between Caesar and Pompey and recalls the sieges subjected on Ategua and Corduba by Caesar.
Despite having entered the Emperor’s closest circle, despite having the Imperial favour and belonging to one of Hispania’s and Rome’s most respected families, Lucanus was cast down by Nero who prohibited him from participating in public ceremonies. The young poet’s response was to participate in the same plot against the Emperor in which his uncle was incriminated, and like him, after being accused of treason, he committed suicide in his home in 65 A.D.
Claudius Marcelus, the founder
Today one of Cordoba’s central streets bears the name of Claudius Marcellus, the Roman general who founded Corduba in the 2nd century B.C. Marcus Claudius Marcellus was a soldier and three-times consul of the Roman Republic, twice inheriting the office from his father and once from his soldier and politician grandfather, famous for the conquest of Syracuse.
The precise date of the founding of Cordoba is still disputed today, turning on the two stays of Claudius Marcellus in the Iberian Peninsula. The first of them took place in 168-169 B.C when he held the office of Praetor of the Two Hispanias. The second, 151-152 B.C., came after fighting against the Celtiberians and opening talks with them, a move which was criticised in Rome as pacifist. It was at that time that he retired to Corduba to rest, providing a clue as to the city’s existence.
Born in Corduba in around 256 A.D, Osius of Cordoba came to be one of the most relevant and the most influential advisers of Emperor Constantine, who was responsible for the definitive Christianisation of the empire as exemplified by the Edict of Milan of 313 in which some authors insist Osius had a hand.
The bishop waged a lengthy battle against Arianism, a doctrine which denied the divinity of Jesus, and in 323 he is said to have presided over the Council of Nicea which laid the framework for the catechisms of the Roman Empire. However, the coming to power of Emperor Constantius, who leaned towards the theories of Arius, lead to the exile of Osius who died far from Corduba, aged over 100.
The cuisine in Roman epoch reached very high degrees of elaboration and refinement. The cooks, considered artists, were rented together with their utensils, developing an ambulant cuisine. The houses had in the dining room or room of the Triclinium one of the principal rooms of the home; a room in which, beside eating, social relations, ceremonies, debates and educations began and developed.
Always with Mediterranean products (olive tree, grapevine and cereals) presiding at the plates, the Roman cuisine was characterized by the use of sauces made by varied spices and also by the employment of honey. Vegetables, fruits and fish were completing the diet, which was feasted in special days with meats of diverse origins. The retainers crowned with laurel or ivy, were initiating the food with an invocation to the gods Lares.
In every table, by means of an issue of dice, the Arbiter Vivendi was chosen, in charge of determining the number of times that people had to drink. The food consists of four parts: the Gustatio (inlets or appetizers): the Summa Comida (principal varied plates, which more forceful part is the Caputcenae); the Secundae Mesae (desserts); Comissatio (afterwards) in which texts and poems were recited, debates were established and plays were represented, being this one the moment for drinking the Mulsum (hot wine).
The food is accompanied of wine of roses and red wine. Marcos Gavius Apicius was one of the most famous gastronomers of epoch of Tiberio. This food is lasting between three and four hours and, during the meal some plays are represented across the movement (Roman pantomime) to recreate myths and legends of the epoch.
AYUNTAMIENTO DE CÓRDOBA
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JUNTA DE ANDALUCÍA
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Calle Capitulares, s/n, 14003 Córdoba, Spain
MUSEO ARQUEOLÓGICO Y ETNOLÓGICO DE CÓRDOBA
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- De miércoles-sábado 09:00-20:00
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CANTERAS DE PEÑATEJADA
- Restaurante Cuevas Romanas
- Calle Las Cuevas, s/n, Urb. La Colina,
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VISITAS GUIADAS PASEOS POR CÓRDOBA
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- Visitas individuales, del 1 de junio al 3 noviembre.
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ENLACES RUTA BÉTICA ROMANA
- Arco de la Puerta de Sevilla
- 41410 Carmona (Sevilla)
- Tel.: 954 19 09 55
1 El Puente Romano / The Roman Bridge
2 Los Miliarios del Patio de los Naranjos / The milestones of the Patio de los Naranjos
3 Mosaico y Sarcófago de Alcázar / The mosaics and sarcophagus of the Alcazar
4 Tumba romana de la Puerta Sevilla / Roman tomb at the Puerta de Sevilla
5 Estatua de Séneca en la Puerta de Almodóvar / Statue of Seneca in the Puerta de Almodóvar
6 El Anfiteatro romano/ The Roman amphitheatre — 37.883961°,-4.788642°
7 Calle altoimperial con cloacas en la calle Ximénez de Quesada / Street with drains from the High Imperial period in Calle Ximénez de Quesada
8 Monumento Funerario de Puerta Gallegos / Funerary monument of Puerta Gallegos
9 La Muralla en Ronda de los Tejares / The wall at Ronda de los Tejares
10 Acueducto de la Estación de Autobuses / Aqueduct at the coach station
11 Palacio de Maximiano Hercúleo / Palace of Maximian
12 Séneca y Nerón en los Llanos del Pretorio / Seneca and Nero in Avenida Llanos del Pretorio
13 Villa Romana de Santa Rosa / Roman villa in Santa Rosa
14 Mausoleo del Palacio de la Merced / Mausoleum of the Palacio de la Merced
15 La Casa Romana del Bailío/ The Roman house at Bailío
16 Templo Romano / Roman temple
17 Los Foros Públicos / The Public Forums
18 Calle Junio Galión / Junio Galión street
19 El Circo / The circus
20 Estatua togada de la Plaza de Séneca / Togaed statue in the Plaza de Séneca
21 El teatro / The theatre
22 Museo Arqueológico y Etnológico / Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
23 Canteras Romanas de Peñatejada / Roman quarries at Peñatejada