This entry is not intended to be an exhaustive, comprehensive report on every Roman site in Portugal and Spain – not even close. Instead I wish to bring to light a bit of my journey of discovery through yet another incredible layer of the history of the Iberian Peninsula.
Prior to the complete Roman domination of the peninsula, the Iberian Peninsula was a multiethnic multi-linguistic region consisting of many different Iron Age tribal groups. Included in this diversity were early Greek, Phoenician, and later Carthaginian colonies. All of these peoples fell under the domination of Rome by the year 19 BCE when the Cantabrian and Asturian wars ended. The Cantabrians and Astures tribes, located in the mountains and coastline of northern Spain, were Celtic peoples who were the last holdouts to the complete Roman conquest of the peninsula. (Bravo, Gonzalo. 2008. Hispania: La Epopeya de los Romanos en la Península. La Esfera de los Libros.) Today the autonomous regions of Asturias and Cantabria in Spain and the Mar Cantábrico (Cantabrian Sea) still bear the names of these once warlike ethnic groups.
This post will provide an overview of my journeys through the largely former indigenous Celtic areas of central and northern Spain and northern Portugal. In these areas during the span of the Roman Empire until its decline in the 5th century, Hispania, as the Romans called it, thrived and was developed with numerous engineering feats of construction. Roads, aqueducts, bridges, theaters, massive defensive walls, lighthouses, sewage systems, mining landscapes, villa and city planning, and amphitheaters built throughout the peninsula facilitated the spread of Roman ideas, laws, and its worldview.
Roman Hispania (modern day Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar, Andorra, and a bit of the French Pyrenees) underwent several administrative provincial changes but at its height was divided into five provinces: Gallaecia, Lusitania, Baetica, Cartaginensis, Tarraconensis. My recent photographic journeys have taken me through three out of the five although I have visited sites in the southwestern Lusitanian region, namely Emerita Augusta (modern Merida, Spain) and Conimbriga (near modern day Coimbra, Portugal).
This travelog post and successive ones will be part of a series documenting my visits to various Roman archaeological sites and cities with surviving architecture and landscapes in the former Roman provinces of Tarraconensis, Cartaginensis, and Gallaecia.
Roman sites visited. Click on the image to enlarge.
Roman Urban Archaeological Ensemble
Prominent Roman Monument
Roman Archaeological Landscape