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Roman history, Mediterranean sun and Spanish passion; search for cheap air tickets to Mérida and you’ll have it all! Just a few steps from Madrid, Mérida was once Spain’s most important Roman cities, a heritage reflected in every aspect of the city. A UNESCO World Heritage Site for the most part, Mérida never fails to impress. The wealth of archaeological sites, ancient Roman settlements and ruins will move even the most “difficult” travellers, while the lively spirit of the local social life will carry you away. Cheap hotels in Mérida are easy to be found, so you can enjoy a full day of exploring the ancient world of Mérida and then head out to the magnificent regions of Western Spain.
Capital of Extremadura, Mérida is located in the western part of Spain, not too far away from Madrid and Salamanca. Originally a Roman settlement, the city was founded in 25 BC by Roman Emperor Augustus and was named Emerita Augusta (Army of Augustus).
Mérida soon became one of Spain’s most important Roman cities and capital of the Roman province of Lusitania. Up until today, this is the single place in Spain with the most well-preserved Roman ruins.
Such was Mérida’s fame and majesty during Roman times, that it was named a “Miniature Rome”. Monuments, theatres and temples have emerged to the surface and are waiting for you to explore them, to discover a whole new universe that once existed and fulfil a wonderful journey back in time!
The airport of Badajoz (Aeropuerto de Badajoz) is located 48 kilometres west of Mérida and is accessible by railway, bus and taxi.
Getting around Mérida
You can get around Mérida using the city’s extensive but network. Fares start at 1.00€ and minimum taxi fare costs 3.00€.
The archaeological site of Mérida is vast and compact, wholly designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as it is one of the most extensive sites in Spain.
Begin your tour at the Roman Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Romano de Mérida), one of Spain’s oldest archaeological findings. The Amphitheatre was built in the 8th century BC, had a capacity of 15,000 spectators and used to host different kind of performances, but mostly cruel - but popular - battles with beasts and gladiators.
Adjacent to the Amphitheatre, you can find the Roman Theatre (Teatro Romano), a work inspired by Marcus Agrippa in 15 BC. Though it has a smaller capacity – 6,000 spectators – than the Amphitheatre, it is still one of the most well-preserved Roman ruins in the world!
Continue to the arches of the Aqueducto Los Milagros, an impressive demonstration of the great technological advances in hydraulic engineering at the time.
The purpose of the “Aqueduct of Miracles” was to bring fresh water to Emerita Augusta. Special arches were constructed to serve this purpose, transferring water from the Proserpina Reservoir to a large tank in the city (castellum aquae), covering a distance of 5 kilometres.
The most spectacular Roman ruin in Mérida dates back to 25 BC and spans River Guadiana. The Puente Romano Bridge is 792 metres long and bears 60 granite arches; it is considered to be one of the largest Roman bridges in the world!
The northern entrance to the bridge is guarded by the Alcazaba castle – a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well - , built by the Moors in 835 AD.
You cannot leave Mérida unless you pay a visit to the National Museum of Roman Art (Museo Nacional de Arte Romano). Boasting ownership of the largest Roman collection in Spain, the museum exhibits more than 30,000 Roman items. What’s more impressive, part of the museum has incorporated the original Roman roads of Mérida and is connected to the Roman Amphitheatre through underground tunnels and trails.
Mérida’s official language is Spanish.