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Merida Roman Circus

Merida Roman Circus


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The Merida Roman Circus or “Circo Romano de Merida” was built in the time that the city, then known as Augusta Emerita, was part of one of the colonies of the Roman Empire.

A vast sports arena able to accommodate up to 30,000 people, Merida’s Roman Circus would have been the site of chariot races and even naval games. It is considered to be one of the largest of its kind and, whilst it is unclear as to when the circus was constructed, it may have been around 25 BC, when Merida itself was founded.

Today, Merida’s Roman Circus is in fairly good condition for a ruin of this type, still having its original track, stands and gateways. There is now a visitor centre where tourists can learn about its history. Like other historic sites in Merida, the Roman Circus is part of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida, a UNESCO World Heritage site.


First International Circus Festival announced in Mérida, from June 24 to 27

Mérida, Yucatán, (June 16, 2021).- The first International Circus Festival Mérida 2021 is a virtual initiative emanating from the City Council’s Directorate of Culture that can be enjoyed for four days, during which 44 national and international artists will offer workshops, conferences and, of course, circus shows.

Photo: (Mérida es Cultura)

Jorge Contreras, creative director of the Festival, highlighted that the circus acts have enjoyed a very good response in the Yucatecan capital. He recalled that other productions that he could bring to the public of Merida have had great acceptance in previous years.

He clarified that this time it is not a classical circus festival, but one belonging to the Nouveau Cirque, although this term, he stressed, is not entirely correct, since it is not really new, it is already some years old, he added.

They will invite companies that are undertaking new journeys in the circus such as Ilaii, a scenic group established in Yucatán that will give a workshop and a master class, by Karen Bernal and Lóránt Vörös, respectively.

For his part, Dominique Decorme-Bordet, cultural attaché of Quebec in Mexico, thanked the invitation to the Festival, because the fact of participating in the first edition of a project like this, he pointed out, causes him a particular feeling.

For him, circus art is a discipline that has recently gained great importance in cities such as Montreal, Quebec, and Mérida. In the same way, he recognized the work of the direction of Culture of the commune for undertaking initiatives such as this Festival.

Quebec will participate with the Blizzard show by the FLIP Fabrique company, one of the last created in that city, which has had a long history and came to give a particular touch to the world of contemporary circus.

Blizzard takes you on a crazy, poetic and tender journey through the winter and invites you to lose yourself in a moment of wonder. Featuring some of the most exciting circus performers of the moment and impressive visual poetry,” he added.

Jorge Contreras explained that in many circus festivals the technical issues that are possible for those who are behind the scenes are lost sight of, so having the opportunity to offer a workshop for technicians and artists is “something significant.”

As for the workshops that will be taught by prominent international artists, the Festival director clarified that it is not about foreigners teaching how to make a circus, but that they are people who will share their knowledge and learn from local talent.

“More than a lesson, it is a cultural exchange that is necessary for each artistic expression to grow,” he said.

The complete billboard of the International Circus Festival Mérida 2021 can now be consulted through Tus Boletos, where you can also buy tickets prices range between 65 and 120 pesos.

The Yucatan Times
Newsroom


Map of Mérida

Already at Mérida's admission in 1993 there were 20 other (Mediterranean) Roman heritages inscribed on the List. And many more followed, currently I count 28 of them and even last year one was added (Serbia's Gamzigrad-Romuliana). "Ancient Rome" is one of the most common site categories. One just wonders how many is enough? My personal favourites so far have been Rome, Pompeii and the Villa Romana del Casale. Before my trip to Extremadura I wondered what Mérida has to offer that all the others don't.

Modern Mérida feels a bit dilapidated at first sight: graffiti, poor housing. I started my tour of the Roman monuments at the amphitheatre and the theatre. For 10 Euros you get an entry ticket to these and the other important sites in town, which can be used over several days. Good value I think. The prize piece is the ancient Roman theatre, which could seat 6000 people and still has the formidable stage with marble columns and statues (although these are replicas).

Close to the theatres is the Roman Museum, which is very much worth visiting. This is were my initial concern faded away. The accomplishments of the Ancient Romans continue to amaze. Remember that the Civilization of Ancient Rome existed really early in history - more than 1000 years before Angkor Wat or Machu Picchu were constructed - and that so much is left, both physical and in writing. There's a well presented exhibition here about the local Roman road system, the Via de la Plata. Entry to this great museum is only 2.40 Euros (and free to minors, seniors and the unemployed!).

The numerous Roman monuments of Mérida are scattered around the modern town. Their quality lies in their ensemble: it would be a great destination for a school trip as you can point out every aspect of life in a Roman city. It shows how they lived (how the rich lived anyway), what they did in their spare time (the theatres, the circus), how they travelled and how they buried their dead. So, Yes, Mérida surely deserves its place among the 28 Ancient Roman WHS.


General view of the circus in Mérida © Junta de Extremadura


Mérida, the splendour of ancient Rome

This route through Mérida invites us to get to know one of the best archaeological and artistic sites in the Roman period in Spain. In fact, the site has been awarded the World Heritage designation by UNESCO.

Mérida was founded about 2,000 years ago by the Roman Emperor Octavian Augustus, under the name Emerita Augusta. Back then it was the capital of the old Roman province of Lusitania. Today it is the capital of the region of Extremadura.


The city is situated on the banks of the Guadiana River and there are two bridges that cross it. On one hand, the longest Roman bridge in Spain and on the other, the Lusitania bridge, a modern design bridge by the architect Santiago de Calatrava. These bridges prove that the Roman and contemporary designs coexist in Mérida.
The route can be covered in one day because most of the monuments can be found in the historic centre of the city. For example, on the Avenida de la Reina Sofía, next to the Mérida bullring we can find the funeral constructions of Los Columbarios, with its Visitor Centre, and the Casa del Mitreo House. The latter is a typical Roman recreational villa with its famous Cosmogonic Mosaic.


The three most impressive archaeological monuments in the city are the theatre, the amphitheatre and the circus. The theatre is very large and one of the best preserved in Spain. Every summer the Mérida Classical Theatre Festival takes place there. Next to it we can find the amphitheatre, which could hold up to 15,000 spectators. The circus was also very large and could hold up to 30,000 spectators.
In the so-called Amphitheatre House, we can see remains of the Roman walls, as well as of the San Lázaro aqueduct, with its decant tower, two houses and necropolis behind, in which the Dintel de los Ríos Mausoleum was discovered.
The National Museum of Roman Art is situated in the vicinity and was designed by the architect Rafael Moneo. This museum is a must on our trip.


Another two stops on our route around Roman Mérida are the remains of the Provincial and Municipal forums. In the first one, Trajan’s Arch stands out. In the second one we can find the remains of the temple of Diana, the Portico, a basilica and Roman thermal baths. Nearby we can also find Las Morerías archaeological site
Another essential stop is the Santa Eulalia Basilica, a Paleochristian temple (4th century) that was rebuilt in the 13th century. The most important element in the basilica is its famous "Hornito", a 17th century chapel which was built with the remains of the Roman temple dedicated to Mars. The excavations carried out since 1990 have discovered a crypt, a vast site suitable for visits, where more remains were found - Roman, late Roman and Visigothic.


The outskirts of Mérida
There are other places worth visiting outside the historic centre of Mérida. Firstly, we can find the famous Los Milagros aqueduct, on the Albarregas stream, in the north of the city, where we can also see a modest bridge. This used to be the aqueduct that supplied drinking water to Mérida in Roman times. The water came from the Cornalvo reservoir, situated in the Cornalvo Nature Reserve, about 20 kilometres from the city.
The Proserpina reservoir, about 15 minutes north of the city, is also worth visiting. This piece of Roman engineering is a place of leisure and relaxation today.


The Portuguese

In the year 929, Caliph Abd-ar-Rahman III appointed a governor in charge of a large cora. Finally, in 1230, Alfonso IX of Leon conquered Mérida for the Christians supported by troops of the Order of Santiago. After that, he entrusted his repopulation and defence to that order, which installed the Priory of San Marcos de León there. Around 1479 the city was governed by Beatriz Pacheco, Countess of Medellín. The noblewoman gave the city to the Portuguese army that supported Juana la Beltraneja. This collaboration provoked that the troops of Fernando the Catholic besieged it.

Between 1640 and 1668, during the War of Restoration of Portugal, it was one of the cities most affected by the continuous requisitions and destruction. This served to exempt it from taxes for years. In 1653, together with Alcántara, Badajoz, Cáceres, Plasencia and Trujillo, it bought a vote in the Castilian Parliament to better defend its common interests.


Roman Circus of Mérida

The Circo Romano was is the sports arena for chariot races in ancient times. It is item number 5 of the six items on the combined ticket that can be purchased at all sites. It is down the street from item number 16 and item number 21 on the map, the two aqueducts. Also nearby is item 22, Terma—The thermal baths. Item number 4 is also nearby, the Cripta of Santa Eulalia.

The inside of the information centre has a short movie in Spanish as well as several posters in Spanish. When you enter the outside Circo, You will find display signs that include English. Worth a look and a photo.

Please feel free to look at the reviews I have written for the other items on the combined ticket as well as some of the other monuments around the historical centre of Merida.

If you find this review helpful, please give me a like.

Feel free to look at the reviews I’ve written for other archeological and historical sites in Merida. You may also find it interesting to read my reviews of tourist sites in Lisbon, Sintr, Porto, several cities in Spain as well as cities in Australia and New Zealand, southeast Asia and South America.


Roman Circus of Mérida

The Circo Romano was is the sports arena for chariot races in ancient times. It is item number 5 of the six items on the combined ticket that can be purchased at all sites. It is down the street from item number 16 and item number 21 on the map, the two aqueducts. Also nearby is item 22, Terma—The thermal baths. Item number 4 is also nearby, the Cripta of Santa Eulalia.

The inside of the information centre has a short movie in Spanish as well as several posters in Spanish. When you enter the outside Circo, You will find display signs that include English. Worth a look and a photo.

Please feel free to look at the reviews I have written for the other items on the combined ticket as well as some of the other monuments around the historical centre of Merida.

If you find this review helpful, please give me a like.

Feel free to look at the reviews I’ve written for other archeological and historical sites in Merida. You may also find it interesting to read my reviews of tourist sites in Lisbon, Sintr, Porto, several cities in Spain as well as cities in Australia and New Zealand, southeast Asia and South America.


Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida

The colony of Augusta Emerita, which became present-day Mérida in Estremadura, was founded in 25 B.C. at the end of the Spanish Campaign and was the capital of Lusitania. The well-preserved remains of the old city include, in particular, a large bridge over the Guadiana, an amphitheatre, a theatre, a vast circus and an exceptional water-supply system. It is an excellent example of a provincial Roman capital during the empire and in the years afterwards.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Ensemble archéologique de Mérida

La colonie d'Augusta Emerita, qui donna naissance à l'actuelle Mérida en Estrémadure, fondée par Auguste en 25 av. J.-C. à la fin de la campagne d'Espagne, devint capitale de la Lusitanie. Les vestiges de la ville antique, complets et bien conservés, comprennent notamment un large pont sur le Guadiana, un amphithéâtre, un théâtre, un vaste cirque et un remarquable système d'adduction d'eau. Ils constituent un excellent exemple de capitale provinciale romaine au temps de l'Empire et dans les années qui suivirent.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

مجموعة ميريدا الأثريّة

أسس الأمبرطور الروماني أوغست في العام 25 ق.م وبعد الحملة على اسبانيا مستعمرة أوغوستا إيميريتا التي أفضت إلى ميريا الحاليّة في استريمادور وأصبحت عاصمة لوزيتانيا. تضمّ آثار المدينة القديمة المكتملة والمحافظ عليها جيّداً جسراً كبيراً يُطلّ على غواديانا، مدرّج، مسرح وسيرك كبير ونظام إمدادات مبتكر. وتشكّل المجموعة خير مثال على عاصمة محلية رومانيّة في مرحلة الأمبرطورية وبعدها.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

梅里达考古群

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Археологический ансамбль в городе Мерида

Древнеримская колония Августа-Эмерита, которая стала ныне городом Мерида в Эстремадуре, была основана в 25 г. до н.э. в конце Испанской кампании и являлась столицей провинции Лузитания. Хорошо сохранившиеся остатки древнего города включают большой мост через реку Гвадиана, амфитеатр, театр, большую арену и уникальную систему водоснабжения. Это превосходный пример древнеримской провинциальной столицы.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Conjunto arqueológico de Mérida

Los orígenes de la ciudad extremeña de Mérida se remontan al año 25 a.C., cuando Augusto, al final de su campaña en Hispania, fundó la colonia Emérita Augusta, que más tarde se convertiría en capital de la provincia romana de Lusitania. Los vestigios de la ciudad romana antigua, completos y bien conservados, comprenden un gran puente sobre el río Guadiana, un anfiteatro, un teatro, un amplio circo y un extraordinario sistema de abastecimiento de agua. Este conjunto arqueológico ofrece un excelente ejemplo de lo que fue la capital de una provincia romana en la época imperial.

source: UNESCO/ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

メリダの遺跡群
Archeologisch ensemble van Mérida

De kolonie van Augusta Emerita – het huidige Mérida in Estremadura – werd gesticht in het jaar 25 voor Christus aan het einde van de Spaanse Campagne. Drie jaar later werd het de hoofdstad van de nieuwe Romeinse provincie Lusitania en speelde een belangrijke rol als basis voor de verovering van het noordwesten van het Iberisch schiereiland. Tot de goed bewaard gebleven overblijfselen van de oude stad behoren een grote brug over de rivier Guadiana, een amfitheater en een theater. Verder zijn er twee columbarii (familiegraven), het watervoorzieningsysteem voor Emerita – inclusief drie dammen, delen van ondergrondse waterkanalen en aanzienlijke resten van aquaducten.

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Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida, located in Extremadura, Spain, has its origins in the year 25 BC, when Augustus completed the conquest of the North of Hispania and founded the Colony of Augusta Emerita. The city was created as an idealised model of Rome and was the capital of Lusitania, the western-most province of the Roman Empire. Following Diocletian’s reform, it functioned as the capital of the Diocese of Hispania. It was also temporarily the royal seat of two Germanic peoples - the Suebi and the Visigoths - and under the Arabic dominion, Mérida was one of the three border capitals of Al-Andalus, together with Toledo and Zaragoza, ensuring control of the western part of the Iberian peninsula.

The modern city of Mérida has been built on top of Emerita yet, archaeological remains are well preserved and still evidence the Roman city. The 22 component parts of the property comprise an area of 31 ha. These include buildings for entertainment (theatre and amphitheatre), public architecture of the Forum and other spaces of power (provincial forum), engineering works (bridges, the dyke, cutwater and clean and waste water systems), and religious buildings, such as the Temple of Diana or the Temple of Marte. The property also includes excellent examples of private architecture, such as the Casa del Anfiteatro, La Casa Basílica, or Casa del Mitreo, which represent daily life. Most of the elements are located within the walled area of the Roman colony, but some are found outside its walls, such as the dams, aqueducts or thermal baths of Alange, in a natural environment and a landscape that has remained comparable to the one of Roman times.

Mérida is an excellent example of a provincial Roman capital during the empire and in the subsequent years. Its historic development is evidenced until today in its street pattern and many constructions still have their original function (bridge, dyke, Arch of Trajano, dams, sewers, Aqueduct of San Lázaro, etc.) or have been rehabilitated for modern use, such as the Circus or Theatre, whose classical theatre festival dates back to the 1930s. The buildings for leisure form an outstanding ensemble with the amphitheatre, theatre, landscaped peristyle and circus. The aqueducts and other water management elements, in an excellent state of conservation, are recognised as being among the best examples from the Roman era. In addition, the historical evolution can be traced in representative buildings of other important periods of history, such as the reinforced walls of the Visigoth era, the Paleo-Christian basilicas of Santa Eulalia and Casa Herrera or Santa Lucia del Trampal, and the Alcazaba (fortress) and its outstanding aljibe (tank) from the Muslim era.

The remarkable conditions of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida allow the property to serve as a learning ground, with vast remains from Roman times and from the development of the city in subsequent times that illustrate the evolution of a European city over a 2000-year period.

Criterion (iii): The Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida is a remarkable example of a Roman city built according to all the Roman urban design rules. Mérida preserves an architecture that reflects its former role as capital in Roman and later eras.

Criterion (iv): The Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida is an outstanding example of public buildings of a major Roman provincial capital, both in its imperial heyday and its subsequent history.

The remains of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida are remarkably well preserved and maintain material integrity. All component parts of the Archaeological Ensemble form a single whole as they preserve the main elements of the Roman colony, above which other monuments from the Visigoth or Muslim era were built, thus evidencing the amalgamation of different periods in history. The limited urban development of the city has allowed for the integrity of all the buried monuments to be preserved until they were excavated in the 20th century.

The archaeological monuments have been incorporated into the present-day city and are elements of the urban landscape. Despite the alterations over the centuries, they have all maintained their historical and scientific significance. Many of the constructions, such as the bridges or the theatre, still remain in use.

Authenticity

The different component parts of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida maintain their conditions of authenticity in regard to their form, design, materials, use and function. The Basilica of Santa Eulalia is a Visigoth construction, but also Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque, and is an example of a legacy adapted to the needs of different generations. The same applies to some stretches of the Guadiana Bridge, altered in the Middle Ages and modern times. In the 17th century, during the Spanish Empire, two Christian monuments were built with Roman marble that show the main signs of the city’s historical identity: the Obelisk of Santa Eulalia and the small temple also devoted to this martyr, built with pagan altars and the remains of the Temple of Marte, respectively. Only in specific instances in the 20th century have the monuments been restored due to conservation needs or for ease of understanding, such as part of the block stands of the Amphitheatre and some of its vaults. The stage front of the theatre was rebuilt on an exceptional basis, but following anastylosis criteria. As a general rule, the state of conservation is remarkable since intervention policy only allows consolidation works but no reconstruction.

Protection and management requirements

The Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida is legally protected by Law 16/1985 on Spanish Historical Heritage and Law 2/1999 on Extremadura’s Historical and Cultural Heritage and the Special Protection Plan for the Historical and Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida, a specific protection regulation passed under the protection of the aforementioned laws and contained in Title IX of the Mérida General Town Planning Plan (published in the Official Journal of Extremadura, Supplement E of N.º 106, of 12 September 2000).

The Consortium “Monumental, Historical-Artistic and Archaeological City of Mérida” has the overall responsibility for the management of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida. This is a public entity with its own legal status made up of all the administrations with authority in heritage conservation matters, such as the Regional Government of Extremadura, the Spanish Ministry for Culture, Mérida City Council and Badajoz Provincial Government this entity succeeded the former Board of the Monumental City of Mérida.

The Consortium of the Monumental City of Mérida has a budget and an action plan to carry out preservation work and improvements of the Archaeological Ensemble each year. It also holds comprehensive action plans for the various monuments of the Ensemble to ensure the preservation of its significance.

At the time of the inscription of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida, town planning was the main threat. However, the urban development has been addressed through the enforcement of the archaeological heritage protection regulations contained in the Special Protection Plan for the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida. All the public institutions firmly support the conservation of the Archaeological Ensemble, contributing funding through the Consortium. Thanks to the work of this entity and the former Board, there is a high level of citizen awareness in support of Mérida’s heritage.


A look at the Mérida Roman circus and circus model

On the 14th January, Anthony Beeson kindly emailed a set of photo.s of Mérida Roman circus to Trust director Philip. Mérida is in Spain. The Roman remains at Mérida form part of one of the largest archaeological sites in Spain and are a designated UNESCO World Heritage site they include a theatr e, amphitheatre, a bridge over the river, two aqueducts, a Trajan arch, a mithraeum, a temple, and the circus… The site and remains of the circus are overlooked by a museum, the Museo Nacional De Arte Romano. The museum includes a model of the Mérida Roman circus – we were very interested to see Anthony’s photo.s of it, as our own Colchester circus super-model is now nearing completion.

Philip and Trust archaeologist Chris Lister visited the Mérida Roman circus not long after we had identified the site of the Colchester Roman circus. They surveyed the remains of the Mérida circus to help us with our work on the Colchester circus. The Mérida circus was a similar size to the Colchester circus. It was rebuilt in the 4th century, but the original structure was probably built in the 1st century AD. It may have been the first Roman circus built in Spain. Roman Mérida was the capital of a province in the empire, as Roman Colchester originally was.

Anthony is the archivist of the Association for Roman Archaeology (ARA) and he is especially interested in Roman art. He records media reporting of discoveries in Roman art and archaeology in a column in the ARA magazine ARA News.

With thanks to Anthony for sending us the photo.s and for giving us permission to publish them on the web-site.

The images show the Mérida Roman circus on the ground, looking along the race track from the remains of the starting-gates and towards the central barrier, and the circus model in Mérida museum.


Watch the video: Rome Circus Maximus 4K (June 2022).


Comments:

  1. Mabonaqain

    I think this is the wrong way.

  2. Birj

    Your phrase, just lovely



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