SAGUNTO

(Saguntum)

  Quality of Remains  
  Ease of Access
  Atmosphere & Setting

History & Occupation:

Sagunto was an independent city long before Roman influence, trading with Greek and Phoenician settlements nearby. Its history changed, however in 219BC and with it the history of the whole Roman Empire. Sagunto occupies one of the most important places in the history of Rome, for it was the appeal of Sagunto to Rome to help the city fight off the Carthaginians that brought the Empire to Spain and, by extension, that fueled the Roman thirst for conquest. Rome came to the aid of Sagunto and engaged in the campaigns that finally drove their opposition from Spain, leaving the land open to be annexed and conquered by Rome itself. Sagunto never regained its independence, becoming a Roman city in the aftermath. The city, now known as Saguntum, continued to prosper under its new rule, minting coins and becoming a municipium, gaining all the public buildings one associates with a great Roman city. After the decline of Roman power in Spain, Sagunto continued for a short while as a Byzantine city before falling to Visigoth rule. Sagunto has had the sad history of being heavily involved in warfare throughout its existence and the city has been badly damaged many times, leading to the destruction of many of its wonders. Notably, Napoleon's marshal Suchet demolished much of the theatre and completely obliterated the tower of Hercules.

Remains and Visit:

The great site of Roman interest in Sagunto is its theatre. Though badly damaged during the Peninsula War, recent restoration and reconstruction has left is with an astounding monument and a great glimpse of what a Roman theatre should be. The accoustics are excellent and as much of the original material as possible has been reused in places. The site of the amphitheatre is lost, though the location of the circus is known and one of its gates has been excavated and preserved. Not far from the theatre on the slope of the hill stands a single wall of huge cyclopian blocks that is all that remains of a temple of Diana. A series of columns from the city's centre have been reused in the old town square to create a covered walkway. The citadel on the summit of the hill is mostly Moorish and later in origin, but the presence of Rome here is also attested by the large quantity of Roman stonework there including paving and cisterns, public buildings and temples. This departure from traditional Roman city planning is clearly the work of the topography of the site. The citadel location played an important part in the war between Rome and Carthage here and continued to be a strong fortress from that day on.

Images:

Theatre
Theatre
Theatre
Theatre
Views of the Theatre interior & Exterior
Theatre
Theatre
Temple
Fortress
Theatre views
Theatre tunnel
Temple of Diana
Stonework at the fortress
Columns
Circus
Aerial view
 
Reused Columns
Circus gate
Aerial view (c/o Google Earth)