Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Extremadura - Mérida


Last Friday morning the API group here in Sevilla headed off for a weekend adventure in Extremadura, a province north of Andalucia and bordering Portugal.  The translation of Extremadura means ‘extremely hard” (or difficult) and refers to the fact that the winters are very cold and the summers are very hot.  Our first stop was Mérida, the capital of Extremadura and one of the most important cities in the Iberian Peninsula during the Roman Empire (Emerita Augusta).  Mérida is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of 23 in Spain, which is the country with the most sites after Italy.  In Mérida we first visited the ancient Roman theater, amphitheater, and National Roman Art Museum.  Every summer in Mérida these ruins are used for a classical theater festival that takes place at night in order to avoid the scorching heat. While all of the ruins and artifacts were impressive considering the lack of technology available at the time, it was somewhat difficult to fully appreciate them after having been to and experienced the grandeur of Rome a couple years ago.

Me at the amphitheater.

The ancient Roman theater in Mérida.
Before leaving Mérida we had free time to walk around the city and find lunch.  It was very strange seeing random Roman ruins whenever you turned a corner in the middle of a ‘modern’ neighborhood.  We also walked down a street named John Lennon Road, which we found out was home to the nightlife district in Mérida.  However, the majority of the time we spent trying to avoid the heat and sun under the awning at an outdoor café and watched a group of kids play soccer.  In order to get to our bus after lunch we walked over one of the many Roman bridges in the city.

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