Sampling Southwest Spain

In the first week of November, Bev and I gave ourselves six days in which to sample some of what southwest Spain has to offer, whilst travelling by motorcycle. It turned out to be a very enjoyable and interesting trip.

Over the six days, we covered 1,130 miles (1,818 kilometres) and visited six towns:

  • Badajoz
  • Mérida
  • Ronda
  • Seville
  • Osuna
  • Santiponce

We did a lot of sightseeing of historical sites, which included:

  • Two Roman amphitheatres
  • A Roman theatre
  • A Roman temple
  • Two Moorish Alcazaba citadels
  • Moorish steam baths
  • Two historic bullrings
  • Two palaces
  • Some impressive bridges
  • Several sites that were used for the filming of Game of Thrones

Day 1 – Badajoz

The trip got underway with a ride from our home, in Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal, and across the Spanish border to the town of Badajoz. We covered the 237 miles (381km) to Badajoz in 4.5 hours, with just one stop to refuel and eat lunch. We booked into the Hotel Badajoz Center, which had ample space in its underground car park for the Goldwing and trailer.

Badajoz is located in the Extremadora region of Spain, close to the border with Portugal. Having previously been occupied by the Romans and the Visigoths, it was conquered by the Moors in the 8th century and became the capital of the Taifa of Badajoz, a Moorish kingdom. The remains of a Moorish citadel still hold a commanding presence over the town and we were eager to visit them.

As we began to walk along a main road towards the old town, we were surprised by how quiet it was, with most of the shops being closed and hardly anyone walking on the streets. Then we realised that it was a public holiday – All Saints Day. Oops! Just before reaching the citadel, we entered the iconic Plaza Alta, which dates back to 1681. Moorish design elements are evident in the buildings that surround the square. Quite a beautiful location to linger for a while.

The Moorish Alcazaba (citadel) in Badajoz was first built in 875, by Abd-al-Ramman Ibn Marwan. It was subsequently expanded and improved throughout the Moorish occupation and beyond. The current state of the structure owes much to the rebuilding that occurred in the 12th century, during the Almohade era, under the rule of Caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf. The fortress is the largest in Spain and was designed to be impenetrable. Three of the fortress gates have survived from the Islamic period: the Capital, Alpendiz and Coracha Gates.

The Capital Gate was the primary entrance to the citadel, and is located near to Plaza Alta. The entrance features two gates, set at an angle to each other, as a defensive design intended to make a frontal attack impossible. The layout, with its small courtyard next to the gate, would have made it difficult to utilise a battering ram on the door of the gate. Above the outer gate is a stone capital that was removed from the Roman forum of Augusta Emerita in Mérida. Its movement to the Alcazaba is believed to have been intended to signify the legitimacy and continuity of power, from the Roman city to Moorish Badajoz. There is no admission fee to enter and explore the remains.

Once through the entrance gate, we enjoyed walking on top of the ramparts, around the circumference of the entire fortress. Along the way, we saw the other gates and towers that were incorporated into the walls. One notable feature is the octagonal Espantaperros Tower, built in the 12th century. In addition to seeing the citadel itself, we were able to enjoy views across the city and the Guadiana River. Archaeological excavations are still ongoing within the Alcazaba.

Day 2 – Day Trip to Mérida

Whilst we were staying in Badajoz for two nights, our focus for day two was the nearby town of Mérida, with its rich Roman history. The Romans founded the town (called Emerita Augusta) in 65 BC, during the rule of Emperor Augustus. It became the capital of Roman Lusitania and was one of the most important cities in the region. Due to the high status of the city, many of the trappings of Roman society were built there, including an amphitheatre, a theatre and a circus or hippodrome (chariot racetrack), along with impressive buildings, bridges and aqueducts. It is one of the best conserved archaeological sites in Spain and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During the 5th century, the Romans were replaced by invading Swabians, who were then kicked out by the Visigoths. In the early 8th century, the Moors conquered the region, and the city of Mérida. Later, around 834AD, they constructed an impressive military fortress (the Alcazaba) along the bank of the river, incorporating the Roman gate that controlled access to the city from the Roman bridge. In 1230, it was the turn of the Christians, during the rule of Alfonso IX. The city saw more upheaval in the 19th century when Napoleon’s French army invaded. And, in 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, the Alcazaba fortress was used by both sides – the Republicans and then the Franco forces.

We rode for 45 minutes, to reach Mérida, and tried to see as much as we could in the few hours we had there. Our first visit was to the Roman Amphitheatre, which was built in the year 8 BC. It is a sizeable structure, built from opus caementicium (an early form of concrete). Brick was also used in some sections of the amphitheatre. The arena itself measured 64.5 metres long and 41.2 metres wide and could seat 15,000 spectators. It featured a central pit that would have been covered with a wooden floor for the games to take place. The games in the amphitheatre included gladiatorial combat.

The Roman Theatre sits adjacent to the Amphitheatre. It was constructed under the patronage of Agrippa, son-in-law of Augustus, between the years 16 and 15 BC. It was built with concrete and lined with ashlar masonry, taking advantage of an existing slope to reduce costs. It could seat 6,000 spectators, who were segregated into different areas dependant upon their status and gender.

As well as being used for theatrical works, the theatre was also used for town council meetings, electoral assemblies and posthumous tributes to important public figures. It is a beautifully preserved structure that was a joy to visit. The theatre is still used for the Mérida Classical Theatre Festival.

Tickets to enter the Amphitheatre and Theatre combination cost 12. But, for €15, a ticket to the Full Monumental Complex also includes the Alcazaba, Temple of Diana, Circus, and several other buildings, so it is worth the additional €3.

We left the theatre complex and began walking through the streets, heading towards the Temple of Diana, when we passed this ruin. It is what is left of a portico of a Roman monument. Part of the structure is decorated with medallions that feature Jupiter and Medusa, separated by a Greek-style figure.

Our next visit was to the Temple of Diana. In Roman times, the temple was situated in a large square, or plaza, known as the ‘Forum of the Colony’, which was the centre and focal point of the city of Augusta Emerita. The temple was built from local granite and was covered with plaster. It was surrounded by columns on all sides.

The Roman temple was abandoned in the 5th century and the Visigoths and Arabs gave it new uses and erected new buildings around it. At the end of the 15th century, a palace house was built inside the temple. It became property of the State in 1972 and has since been excavated and restored.

Heading down to the Guadiana River, we admired the ancient Roman Bridge that spans 792 metres across the river. Whilst no longer used for vehicle traffic, it is open to pedestrians. It has been a protected site since 1912. The bridge was built with concrete, faced with ashlar granite, and features sixty rounded arches. It was one of the longest bridges of its time. On a roundabout near to the bridge, there is a statue of the Capitoline Wolf, suckling young twins Romulus and Remus. This symbol of Rome can be found in many cities around the world. This one appears to be quite recent, erected in 1997. From the bridge itself, we viewed the river and looked back at the walls of the Moorish Alcazaba.

In the beginning of the 8th century, the Moors conquered Roman Augusta Emerita and renamed the town Marida. A century later, the local population rebelled against the central government in Cordoba. This prompted Abderraman II to order the construction of a formidable fortress, in 834 AD. The Alcazaba, a military fortress, was built on the remains of the Roman gate, at the end of the Roman Bridge, which had controlled access to the city. The Decumanus Maximus is one of two main avenues that existed in any Roman city. In Augusta Emerita, that avenue started at this gate. The new Moorish fortress maintained control of the access gate into the city.

The Alcazaba housed about 2,000 soldiers. The governor also moved into the fortress for his safety. The walls were 10 metres high. The fortress had two access gates and was protected by 25 towers, distributed along the walls. The Alcazaba retained its military role into the 13th century, with several walls and towers being refurbished, and new flanking towers being added to the outside walls, to fend off sieges.

There are some interesting remains of what was once a three-storied tower, built in the 9th century. The top floor was used as a communications tower, utilising smoke signals and mirrors to reflect the sun, to communicate with nearby precincts. The middle floor was a mosque and the surviving ground floor gave access to an underground water cistern. Two tunnels still exist, that lead down to the water cistern (which now houses goldfish). This building provided a fascinating insight into life in the fortress.

In 1230, Alfonso IX, the Christian King of Leon, conquered the city and handed it over to the Order of the Knights of Santiago, so that they could continue their advance southwards. The Knights of Santiago restored the Alcazaba and established the House of the Order within its walls.

Between the 13th – 15th centuries, the rest of the premises were occupied by about 50 houses, that became known as the ‘old village’. In 1578, the place was transformed into a residential convent for members of the Order of Santiago. From the 17th century onwards, the Alcazaba gradually lost its role within the city. In 1983, the convent was restored for use by the regional government.

There was more that we wanted to see in Mérida – particularly the circus/hippodrome. But we had already done a lot of walking and we still had to ride back to Badajoz. It occurred to me that we would have been better served by spending two nights in Mérida where there was lots to explore, instead of in sleepy Badajoz.

Back in Badajoz, we headed back to Plaza Alta in the evening to eat dinner. Whilst we were there, we enjoyed seeing the plaza by night. Quite pretty! And the town was still very quiet.

Day 3 – Ronda

On day three, we headed further south with a 4.5 hour ride to Ronda, in the Andalusia region. Ronda was already settled in the 6th century BC by the Celtiberians, who called it Arunda. The current town has Roman origins, and was originally built as a fortification in the Second Punic War (218-201 BC). It was elevated to city status in the time of Julius Caesar. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Ronda was first occupied by the Suebi and later by the Visigoths, who ruled until the Arab invasion of 713 AD. The Moors renamed it to Hisn Ar-Rundah (“Castle of Rundah”). The city at that time more or less occupied the current old town centre (La Ciudad), to the south of the gorge.

Ronda was one of the last outposts of Islamic rule in Andalusia, and was only conquered in 1485 by the Spanish, who then gradually drove out the remaining muslim population. In the 17th and 18th century, Ronda expanded north across the gorge into the new town (El Mercadillo), and the New Bridge (Puente Nuevo) was finished in 1793 to connect both parts.

We arrived in Ronda mid-afternoon and checked into the apartment that would be home for the next two nights. Our first order of business was getting something to eat, so we dug into some tapas at a nearby restaurant. With food in our bellies, we headed out on foot to get our first taste of Ronda. Of course, we made our way towards the iconic New Bridge and then paid a visit to Casa del Rey Moro. The 18th century Neo-Mudejar style house is in a derelict state and under renovation, so can’t actually be visited. And the 1912-designed garden was rather underwhelming. But it was the historic 14th century Water Mine that we had come to see. This vertical passageway is carved into a wall of the gorge, following the lines of a natural crevice. The stairways of the mine descend 60 metres (200 feet) to the Guadalevin River at the bottom of the gorge. There Moorish king Abomelic ruled Ronda between 1331-1339 and was responsible for the installation of a water wheel in the mine. That wheel was powered by Christian slaves, to bring water up from the river to the city.

Following our visit to the water mine, we took a walk around the old town and enjoyed looking at the old buildings. I particularly enjoyed the design of some of the old windows and balconies, with their iron bars.

In the evening, we ate dinner at one of several tapas bars that were near our apartment, and then took another look at the New Bridge, to see it illuminated at night.

Day 4 – Ronda

For day four, the bike was left in the garage. We wanted a full day to explore Ronda on foot. We started out with the historic bullring that was only a short distance from our apartment. Ronda is famous within Spain for its bullfighting history, as it is the home of the Rondeño style of bullfighting. It has one of the oldest bullrings in Spain, having been completed in 1784. Its rueda, which is the large round circle of sand, is the largest in the world with a diameter of 66 metres. The bullring is also home to the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda, Spain’s oldest and most noble order of horsemanship and an order that traces its heritage back to 1485. That was the year that the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella defeated the Moors in Ronda, thus bringing the city back under Christian rule after 773 years of Islamic rule.

We had passed the bullring the day before and decided not to visit, but I am glad that we changed our minds. It was a very interesting and enjoyable visit. The tour is not guided, so participants just follow the arrows marked on the ground to complete the circuit.

The route led us through the equestrian centre, where dressage and other horse riding skills are practiced. We then passed the horse stables and secure pens for holding the bulls, before we emerged onto the sand of the rueda. From the centre of the ring, the beauty of this old structure was evident. Whilst not actually the oldest bullring in Spain, it is the oldest constructed entirely of stone. I tried to imagine what the atmosphere must be like with a full capacity of 5,000 spectators. I also stood behind one of the wooden barriers and imagined a huge bull trying to get to me! It is a gory sport with many detractors, but I have to admire the courage of the men who stand in front of those bulls. Leaving the ring, we visited the museum where we learned more about the history of bullfighting and viewed an assortment of old outfits and horse tack. From there, we moved up to the seating area for a different perspective of the bullring. Whether or not we agree with the sport, we could definitely appreciate the history of the building. A worthwhile visit.

The New Bridge is the main feature of the town, and it is an impressive construction. It rises 120 metres (390 ft) from the bottom of the gorge and took 34 years to complete.Whilst we had already seen the bridge a couple of times, we wanted to see it from a different perspective, so we took a hike down a dirt trail towards the bottom of the gorge. Access was via the Puerta de los Molinos.

From there, we walked alongside the remaining city walls, built by the Moors, and marvelled at the impressive Almocabar Gate, one of the main entrances into the old city. It was built in the 13th century and restored during the reign of Charles V – King of Spain (Castile and Aragon) from 1516 to 1556.

Another interesting visit was to the Arabic Baths, located outside the old city walls. This facility featured three adjoining rooms: a hot room (steam bath or sauna), a warm room and a cold room with baths. A donkey-powered water wheel raised water from below, which was then fed into the baths via a small viaduct. A wood-burning stove heated the rooms and created the steam. The baths were built between the 13th – 14th century and are considered to be the best preserved on the Iberian Peninsula.

From the Arab Baths, we made the climb back up to the old town via the Old Bridge and the Arch (or Gate) of Filipe V. Our visit to Ronda was coming to an end.

Day 5 – Seville

When we left Ronda, we intended to make a stop in the town of Setenil de las Bodegas, known for its white houses that are built into the surrounding cliffs. We did reach the town but couldn’t find a parking space that was suitably close to the centre to avoid a long walk whilst wearing bike gear. So, we continued our ride towards Seville, that included some scenic back roads.

After a two-hour ride to Seville, we checked into the Hotel Don Paco for two nights. We wasted no time before setting out walking towards the centre of the city. We meandered through the narrow lanes, with a vague notion of the direction in which we were headed, until we popped out near to the 16th century Cathedral. Reported to be the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, and the 4th largest of all churches, it is an impressive sight. I contemplated paying to visit the interior of the cathedral, but the long queue made up my mind for me.

We were more interested in visiting the Royal Palace of Alcazar. This amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to the year 913 AD, when the Caliph of Cordoba, Abdurrahman III an-Nasir, ordered new government premises, the Dar al-Imara, to be built. The palace was expanded in the 10th century and it became the hub of the city’s official and literary life. The Arabic Almohades added even more buildings in the 12th century. In 1248-49, the territory was conquered by the Castilians, who gave it the role it still retains, as a Royal Residence and as the city’s political hub. Since the Middle Ages, successive monarchs have sought to put their stamp on the Alcazar. As a result, it has seen many modifications and makeovers, to meet the preferred styles of the day. The upper floors are the Spanish royal family’s Seville residence. It is the Europe’s oldest continually used royal palace.

More recently, the palace gained an additional element of interest, when it was used to portray the Kingdom of Dorne in the HBO series Game of Thrones. Somewhat surprisingly though, there is no mention of the Game of Thrones connection when visiting the complex. To jog the memory of fans, here are some HBO screenshots from scenes that were filmed within the palace.

As we wandered through the palace, I was fascinated by the stunning architecture. It was all so beautiful, but I was particularly impressed by the Arabic features. I’ll allow the photos to speak for themselves.

Moving outdoors, we found ourselves in the sprawling gardens of the palace (part of which formed the Water Gardens of Dorne in the Game of Thrones). We chose to only walk around a small part of the gardens. One of the interesting features was the “Fountain of Fame”, the only 17th century fountain-organ surviving in Spain, and one of only four left in the world. The fountain still plays music, thanks to a renovation in 2006. Another easy-to-miss feature is beneath the palace, accessed by a tunnel. The Baths of Dona Maria de Padilla are an underground pool with a vaulted ceiling. They are named after a lover of King Pedro I, who enjoyed bathing in the pool.

We began to walk east, towards the Plaza Espana. Along the way, we passed the impressive 17th century baroque Palace de Telmo. It was initially a university for navigators but is now the seat of the presidency for the Andalusian Autonomous Government. A little further along, we passed the distinctive Costurero de la Reina (the Queen’s Sewing Box). This unique construction of two-tone bricks with horizontal stripes was built in the 19th century. It was the first neo-Mudejar-style building in Seville. From there, we were able to walk through the Maria Luisa Park, to reach the Plaza.

The Plaza de España is one of Seville’s Mudejar classics, built in 1928 in preparation for Seville’s hosting of the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. The half-moon-shaped building is fronted by a moat and borders a large plaza. There are beautifully decorated arched bridges across the moat, with the opportunity to row small boats along the moat. The building is now used as offices for government agencies.

The Plaza has been used as a film set. It featured in some scenes of Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and as the City of Theed on the Planet Naboo, in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002).

The sun was beginning to set as we arrived, casting an orange glow across the front of the building. Horse and carriage drivers arrived and departed the plaza, bringing tourists to enjoy the tranquil scene, whilst those on foot dodged the piles left on the ground by the horses.

A crowd had gathered under the arches of the building, where music was playing. We headed over and found a flamenco dancer with her accompanying musicians, entertaining those who had gathered. Here is a video clip of part of her performance.

With the tapping of flamenco echoing in our heads, we enjoyed an evening stroll along the bank of the Guadalquivir River. People were using the promenade for their evening exercise, boaters were rowing their way along the river, whilst others had begun to gather at the open air bars. As we ambled along, we passed the Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold). This 12-sided watchtower was built between 1220–1221 by the Almohad Caliphate, to control access to Seville via the river. When seeing the tower illuminated at night, it is easy to guess how it got its name. As the lights from the bridges cast long reflections on the river, we continued our walk until we reached the Real Maestranza bullring. Construction began in 1761 and it was finally completed in 1881. It is reputed to be the most attractive bullring in Spain. We were interested in visiting but, sadly, they were just closing as we got there. We had to content ourselves with admiring the exterior.

We moved away from the river front and, once again, found ourselves alongside the massive cathedral. The edifice takes on a different appearance when illuminated at night. We were even able to sneak a brief peek inside, as one of the doors was open for those celebrating evening Mass.

We headed back to the hotel, feeling that we had managed to cram a lot into a single day. Our feet were certainly reminding us that we had done a lot of walking!

Day 6 – Game of Thrones Themed Day Trip, to Osuna and Santiponce

Having recently binge-watched all eight seasons of Game of Thrones, Bev and I were enthusiastic about our plans for day six. Not only would we be visiting two sites of historical interest, they were also used to film notable scenes in Game of Thrones. Bonus!

First, we rode about one hour east of Seville, to the small town of Osuna, where some of the series was filmed. Osuna’s Plaza de Toros (bullring) became the Pit of Danzak in GOT season five. The fictional fighting pit, located in the Slavers Bay city of Mereen, was the scene of a huge fight between the Unsullied and the Sons of the Harpy’s. Daenerys Targaryen’s dragon, Drogon, flew into the pit to change the tide of the battle and to save his ‘mother’. For filming, CGI was used to add additional rows of seats, to make the arena seem bigger.

The construction of Osuna’s bullring began at the beginning of 1902, using granite ashlars from the ancient Roman city of Osuna. It was opened on 13 May 1904, with Montes and Chamaquito, the two most famous bullfighters at the time. Prior to its construction, bullfights occurred in the town’s square plazas. The arena is a forty-eight metres diameter circle, one of the largest in the Iberian Peninsula, and the stands can seat 6,500 spectators.

When we arrived outside the bullring, the gates were closed and there was no sign of life. We were disappointed, thinking that we would not be able to enter, after driving for an hour to get there. Just as we were about to leave, a cleaner opened the door, on her way to run an errand. She didn’t speak English, but we understood that she would be back in a few minutes, so we waited. Several minutes later, she returned and let us in. We were allowed to wander through the facility, unaccompanied, and we were not even charged an admission fee. It was interesting to see the pens and chutes where bulls would be held. The facility has a small Bullfighting Museum that was opened in 2019. There is even a tiny chapel, presumably for the matadors to use before entering the ring with the bulls. It was interesting to see the differences between this bullring and the one we had visited in Ronda. And we imagined Drogon flying into the arena to defeat the Sons of the Harpy’s.

A second connection to the Game of Thrones was a little harder to find. I was aware that a museum in Osuna had dedicated space to the Game of Thrones, so we wanted to visit. But we couldn’t see any mention of it on the tourist boards that we found in the town. I had to turn on data roaming on my phone to find the information I needed, and to guide us to the Museum of Osuna.

The small Museo de Osuna is located in the Palace House of Arjona y Cubas, a family that travelled from Galicia to Andalusia in the 18th century, during the Reconquest. The palace belonged to this family until 1862, after which it passed into different hands. The building follows the patterns of palatial houses of the 18th century and is organised around four courtyards. The museum houses a rather eclectic collection of items with local interest, displayed in small rooms throughout the building. We viewed them all, but we were primarily interested in the two rooms dedicated to the filming of the Games of Thrones scenes in Osuna.

Many of the town’s inhabitants worked as extras on the 12-day shoot in October 2014. In November 2015 the ‘Salon de Hielo y Fuego’ (Ice and Fire Hall), opened at the Osuna Museum. The rooms, on two different floors, feature photos and memorabilia from the Game of Thrones filming.

By the time we finished at the museum, we were hungry and looking for somewhere to eat. But we couldn’t find anywhere! We left the town and found a roadside restaurant on the way to our next destination. We didn’t know at the time, but later read that the GOT cast’s favourite restaurant in Osuna was Casa Curro in Plazuela Salitre. The restaurant now features dishes named after some of the characters. Had we known at the time, we would have looked for it.

We rode back towards Seville, for a visit to the ruins of the Roman city of Itálica, located in the municipality of Santiponce, about 10km from Seville. Here, the amphitheatre of Itálica is the main attraction. The amphitheatre was used to depict the ruins of the Dragonpit at King’s Landing (Game of Thrones), which was where House Targaryen had kept its dragons. The Dragonpit was featured in Game of Thrones season 7, when Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister brought a captured wight, from the army of the dead, to persuade Cersei that she should focus her attention on defeating the White Walkers. The location was also featured in season 8, when the main players gathered at the Dragonpit, to elect a king after the fall of King’s Landing.

In real life, the city of Itálica was founded in 206 BC, by Roman soldiers who had been defeated in a nearby battle against the Carthaginians. In time, the city grew in importance, and Roman emperors Hadrian and Trajan were both from Itálica.

The amphitheatre was the most significant structure in the city, and was built during the reign of Hadrian. It could host 25,000 spectators and was one of the largest amphitheatres in the Roman Empire. The pit in the centre of the arena contained a rigging system that allowed animals and gladiators to be raised into the arena from below.

By the time we arrived at the Roman city of Itálica, there was only about one-hour left before closing, but there was no admission fee. Of course, the first place we visited was the amphitheatre.

The Roman remains extend much further than the amphitheatre, so we used the time that was left to have a wander around some of the site.

Human settlement in this area first occurred between the 8th – 5th centuries BC. After the battle of Ilipa, in the Punic wars between Rome and Carthage, Roman general Scipio Africanus left his wounded soldiers there. Following that, Roman culture gradually prevailed and by the mid-1st century BC the city obtained the status of municipium and was one of the main cities in the province. During the reign of Augustus, around the start of the Christian era, the first monuments were erected and building commenced on the amphitheatre. Leading families from the area began to take their place in the senate in Rome and exerted their influence. By 98 AD, Trajan became the first emperor born outside the Italian peninsula. Trajan’s successor, Hadrian (117-138AD), also had roots in Itálica. During his reign, urban development expanded, with the creation of wide roads and large public buildings. At the time, the city is believed to have had a population between 8,000 – 10,000.

The local families lost influence in Rome from the 3rd century onwards. That seemed to begin the decline of the city and some buildings were abandoned. The clay ground upon which the city was built may also have contributed to the partial abandonment. From the 4th century, Christianisation also led to widespread changes throughout the Roman empire, particularly with regard to the removal of all pagan buildings and the creation of places of worship as central features. This also occurred in Itálica.

Itálica was designated as a national monument in 1912. A year earlier, a law was enacted that regulated archaeological excavations. These factors halted a period during which the site was plundered for materials or subjected to shoddy excavations. Subsequently, Itálica saw two significant periods of excavations: between 1914-1931 and 1970-1984. As a result, a sizeable site is now open to the public that includes the amphitheatre, thermal baths, streets with underground sewers and the remains of buildings.