ITALICA

  Quality of Remains  
  Ease of Access
  Atmosphere & Setting

History & Occupation:

Founded by Publius Cornelius Scipio in 206BC, Italica is one of the ealiest important Roman cities outside the Italian peninsula. Created by the famous general to settle his veterans during the Punic War in Spain, Italica gradually grew in wealth and influence, having the distinction to be the first non-Italian city to produce an Emperor (Trajan) and his successor Hadrian had familial links here also. With a solid Imperial link came a new burst of life to Italica. The city expanded with the Nova Urbs (or new city), almost trebling the size of the urban sprawl. In the third century, sadly, Italica's influence and wealth began to fade. Deforestation caused a shift in the course of the river Guadalquivir and Italica lost its prime position to the neaby city of Hispalis (Seville) which was still on the banks of the river. Italica continued to fade until the invasions of the barbarians in the 5th century. The devolution of the city is responsible however, for its preservation. A civil settlement continued on the site of the old city under the modern name Santiponce, but the Nova Urbs became abandoned and left to rot.

Remains and Visit:

Of the old city Santiponce covers almost all, including the once great circus, but one gem remains in the modern area. The town's theatre remains in the middle of the urban area and is a good example. The main wealth of Italica, however, lies in the Nova Urbs around half a mile down the road. Here there are houses, baths, roads, temples, along with fine mosaics, reconstructed gardens, streets and so on. It really is a magnificent place and excavation, though sporadic, is still ongoing, so the site changes almost every visit. Perhaps the most famous structure at Italica though and certainly the most striking, is the amphitheatre. This is the third largest amphitheatre in the Roman world and remains a very fine example with the underground tunnels still complete. Also here was found a unique item. A tablet (now fixed on one of the tunnel walls) contemporary with the amphitheatre that gives the code of conduct expected of a gladiator; the rules of the amphitheatre if you like. I cannot stress enough the importance of a visit to Italica if you are a fan of Roman sites. It is certainly one of the top three in Spain, along with Empuries and Merida.

Images:

Amphitheatre
Amphitheatre
Amphitheatre Tunnels
The plaque
Wall painting
The Amphitheatre
The Amphitheatre
Amphitheatre tunnels
Gladiator plaque
Wall painting
Mosaic
Mosaic
House
Cardo
Peristyle
House of the Planatarium Mosaic
House of the Birds Mosaic
A house
Cardo (Street)
Peristyle Garden
Theatre
Theatre
Aerial view
   
Santiponce theatre
Santiponce theatre
Aerial view (c/o Google Earth)