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Merida Holidays

Merida holidays

Mérida is the capital of the Extremadura region and was founded by the Romans (Emperor Augustus) in the 1st century BC. It subsequently became the capital of the Roman province of Lusitania which encompassed modern Portugal. The city is 196 km from Seville Airport, 284 km from Lisbon Airport and 355 km from Madrid Airport.

Merida, Extremadura

Holidays In Merida

The current population of Mérida is around 65,000 but at its height in Roman times the population was in the region of 40,000, which proportionally designated it as a major city in the Roman Empire. There are more Roman remains in the city than anywhere else in Europe and these are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After the fall of the Roman Empire the city came under Visigothic control until it fell to the Moors in 713 AD. The Moors controlled the aduracity until 1230 AD when Alfonso IX of Leon conquered Mérida. The impressive Alcazaba, built by the Moors in 835 AD, is the oldest in Spain.

Mérida is set on the banks of the Guadiana River, the source of which is in Castilla La Mancha and which finally flows into the sea in the Algarve. The Guadiana is the 4th longest river in Spain.

The Roman Bridge over the Guadiana is the longest bridge built by the Romans at 790 metres and was in use by road traffic until 1955. It is now still used by pedestrians. Road traffic now uses the Lusitania Bridge designed by the famous Spanish engineer Santiago Calatrava. The Roman theatre, which is constantly used for a variety of performances and was excavated in 1910, seats 16,000 people and the amphitheatre 3,000. The Circus Maximus, built in the 1st century BC, is older than that of Rome, is well preserved and measures 400m x 100m and seats 30,000 people. The monumental, so called Arch of Trajan - actually built in honour of Tiberius - is impressive as is the Temple of Diana - actually in honour of Augustus - in the middle of the forum.

The National Roman Art Museum, which opened in 1986, is a world class museum featuring the many pieces recovered from excavations.

Mérida is very much a provincial town with much to see. Restaurants feature local cuisine and are good value. Café society is very prevalent as with all southern Spanish cities and tapas bars and bars are to be found in all squares. Tourism is new in this region and 85-90% of visitors are domestic tourists.

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