🏺 The Roman city of Itálica
Itálica was one of the great cities of Hispania. Today it is a testimony to the greatness of Rome, a reminder of great emperors, a film set and without doubt, one of Seville’s great cultural visits.
Visiting the Roman ruins of Itálica is a magnificent excursion near Seville that allows us to enjoy nature and culture. It is the Pompeii of Seville.
Itálica is an ancient Roman city located north of the town of Santiponce, 7 km from Seville, on the Via de la Plata, on the road to Mérida.
The city was founded in 206 BC by Publius Cornelius Scipio, situated on a hill near the Guadalquivir, in the vicinity of Híspalis (Seville) and Ilipa (Alcalá del Río). It was an important city that continued to be active during the Muslim period, with the name of “Talikah/Taliqa”, and it was not until the 12th century that it was abandoned, becoming known by the Christians as “Sevilla la Vieja” (Seville the Old).
It would be the object of continuous plundering and a permanent quarry of materials until 1810 when it was protected under the Napoleonic occupation and was later listed as a National Monument in 1912. In 2001 the Junta de Andalucía delimited the areas of its effective protection. More than 50% of the surface has yet to be excavated.
As more than 50% of its surface has yet to be excavated, it is in an expansion phase.
It is also a popular place to eat at the weekends, with typical ventas such as the Ventorrillo Canario.
What to see in Itálica
The Amphitheatre is the most spectacular monument. It dates from the time of Hadrian, between the years 117-138.
It has a capacity of 25,000 spectators and was one of the largest amphitheatres in the empire with three tiers of seating. Below the level of the old wooden floor of the amphitheatre, there is a service pit for the different gladiator and beast shows. A small version of the Colosseum in Rome.
The city and the houses
After the amphitheatre, we recommend a visit to the Nova Urbs, the quarter built on Hadrian’s initiative in the first third of the 2nd century. After crossing the remains of the wall we begin a pleasant stroll through its wide paved streets with porticoed pavements, adorned with cypress trees.
The water supply and sewage network can be seen. The water was supplied by an aqueduct to the cisterns (castellum aquae) and from there to the public fountains and to the main buildings through lead pipes. The sewage was discharged into sewers, now visible under gratings at the crossroads of the streets.
The Termas Mayores, the public baths, occupy a large block that has only been partially excavated, pending archaeological work on the Palestra de las Termas.
But the most spectacular are its houses or villas Itálica, stately homes built around a central courtyard, featuring several rooms decorated with magnificent mosaics. The Casa de la Exedra, which occupies a large block with its central courtyard, presided over by a beautiful fountain, thermal baths, palestra and other buildings, is particularly noteworthy.
Other interesting houses are:
House of Neptune, with thermal baths and several rooms decorated with mosaics.
House of the Birds, partially reconstructed. The house has been recreated with a peristyle or porticoed garden and rich mosaics.
House of the Planetarium, with a mosaic that gives name to this house, consisting of a circle within which seven medallions with busts are distributed.
Other notable houses are the house of the Rhodian Patio and the house of Hilas.
Casa Cañada Honda, in the highest part of Italica, in this area there is a Stibadium where open-air banquets were held, in the area we can also find several houses and commercial establishments (tabernae).
Within the city, we have the Traianeum, Temple dedicated to Trajan surrounded by a porticoed square with exedra.
If you are very interested in the Roman world it is interesting to visit the centre in the Plaza de la Constitución in Santiponce called ‘Cotidiana Vitae‘ with exhibitions about the daily life of the ancient inhabitants of Italica on a journey to the 2nd century AD to walk through different public and private spaces of a Roman city. There are new initiatives of the City Council such as the Roman tapas route on the ‘Day of Romanity’ or ‘Gvstatum Iter’.