Roman Ruins of Italica

Ruins in Seville

Italica lies 9 km northwest of Seville in southern Spain, was a settlement founded by the Roman general Scipio in the province of Hispania Baetica. It was the birthplace of Emperors and  flourished under the reign of Hadrian, becoming an elaborate urban center and obtaining the highest status of Roman city.

More than 50% of the surface of the city of Italica is to be excavated and the area in which the so-called Adriannean quarter is located, where the highest Baetic aristocracy had its houses and most of which has yet to be examined.

What to see at the Roman Ruins of Italica

As no modern city covered many of Italica’s buildings, the result is an unusually well-preserved Roman city with cobbled Roman streets and mosaic floors still in situ. The ruins contain remarkable mosaics and an impressive amphitheater and many rich finds can also be seen in the Seville Archaeological Museum, with its famous marble colossus of Trajan.

Roman Amphitheatre at Ruins of Italica

Italica’s amphitheater seated 25,000 spectators which was about half as many as the Colosseum in Rome and was the third largest in the Roman Empire at the time and uut of its three stories  two remain standing. The size of the amphitheater is a little surprising given that the city’s population at the time is estimated to have been only 8,000, and shows that the local elite demonstrated status that extended far beyond Italica itself. The nearby Seville, originally founded by the Phoenicians and called Hispalis, and during the Roman period called Julia was and would remain a larger city, would have helped fill the seats.

Look out for:

  • The central pit of the amphitheater which was used for animal cages (bears and wild boar) during gladiatorial combats.
  • Votive plaque with engraved feet at the entrance of the amphitheater
  • Familiar features as 2016 it was used as a filming location for Game of Thrones!

Cardus Maximus at Ruins of Italica

Beyond this, on and around the wide main avenue or Cardus Maximus, about five large houses of prosperous families have been excavated, some with well-preserved, colourful mosaics, including  floors with exquisite design of birds, Neptune, and the planets. These mansions measured up to 15,000m2.

Look out for:

  • The exquisite Mosaic floor in the House of the Planetarium
  • Neptune mosaic at the House of the Neptune Mosaic

Emperor Trajan’s Temple at Ruins of Italica

You can also see the remains of the Traianeum, the Temple in honor of the Emperor Trajan and was built by his adopted son and successor, Hadrian. It measures 108 x 80 m and is surrounded by a large porticoed square with alternating rectangular and semicircular recess around its exterior which would house sculptures. The temple precinct was decorated with over a hundred columns of expensive Cipollino marble from Euboea, and various fountains.

Thermal Complexes

The thermal complex was used by the citizens of Itálica to receive massages, take baths and exercise, to participate in friendly or business meetings, listen to fashionable poets and consult the library. Two thermal complexes were built in the city:

  • The minor thermal baths date from the time of Trajan , under Hadrian’s mandate its structure was reinforced, the observable surface occupies an area of ​​1500 m².
  • The largest hot springs date from Hadrian’s time and occupied 32,000 m² located at the western end of the city.

Roman theater of Italica

The theater is the oldest known civil work in Itálica and found in 1984. It is located in the so-called Cerro de San Antonio, east of the town of Santiponce and takes advantage of the natural slope on the Baetis. It was built between the 1st century BC. and I century AD. and its use lasted until at least the 5th century.

History of the Roman Ruins of Italica

There was a native Turdetani town on the site dating back at least to the 4th century BC. The city was one of the earliest Roman settlements in Spain, founded in 206 BC. by Publio Cornelio Scipio, ‘the African‘, as a place to recover the wounded legionaries after the battle of Ilipa, in the Second Punic War as well as a place of residence for their war veterans. The name of the city – Italica reflected the veterans’ Italian origins.

The vetus urbs ‘old’ city developed into a prosperous city and was built on a Hippodamian, an ancient Greek architect and urban planner,  street plan with public buildings and a forum at the center, linked to a busy river port.  Hadrian expanded the nova urbs (new city) to the north and added Temples.

The town rose to high social and military status in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, when Trajan and his nephew Hadrian were in power. Italica was the birthplace of both Emperor Trajan and Emperor Hadrian. Hadrian named the town, which at the time, had a population of 8,000, Colonia Aelia Augusta Italica. The area was a major producer of grain and olive oil, and some families with private farms became very wealthy exporting to Rome.

From the 3rd century AD the town started to dwindle, possibly due to the problem of the port on the river Guadalquivir silting up. Although it did remained in use until the Muslim period when it became a quarry of materials, being then known as Seville the old.

Throughout the Middle Ages and until the last century, the ruins were used as a source of building materials – for the road from Merida to Sevilla in the 19th century, and for grand houses in Seville.

Game of Thrones Season at Roman Ruins of Italica

In autumn 2016, Seville was abuzz as various Game of Thrones actors arrived to film for Season 7 in the Atarazanas (Royal Shipyards) and Italica. The episode which featured Italica was the climactic final one, first shown in August 2017, in which three members of major houses have a historic meeting about a common enemy in the amphitheatre.

A simple platform was built over the pit, with the steps nearest the main doorway (eastern end) used by one character to make a dramatic entrance before the assembled bigwigs. You can also see the characters walking along the path towards the amphitheatre.

CGI was used to add extra height to the western wall, with arches where statues would have sat, so that it bears a closer resemblance to its original state.

Near the Roman Ruins of Italica

Nearby and also worth visiting is Cotidiana Vitae, a Roman-themed visitor centre in Santiponce. It has a reconstruction of a 2nd century AD Roman house, complete with bedrooms and kitchen, a plan of how Italica would have looked, and an audio-visual presentation showing the construction of the Roman town. It is located in Plaza de la Constitucion 11, Santiponce.

Other names of Roman Ruins of Italica

The Roman Ruins of Italica has the following names: Itálica.

Visiting Roman Ruins of Italica

Hours:

Jan – Mar

Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm,

Sundays and holidays from 9am to 3pm

Monday: Closed


April – Jun

Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 8pm,

Sundays and holidays from 9am to 3pm

Monday: Closed.


Price:

Free for EU citizens, and only €1,50 non EU

Address: Conjunto Arqueológico de Itálica, Av. Extremadura, 2 41970 Santiponce Sevilla Spain
Telephone: +34 699 34 11 42
Duration: 3 hours

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