We suggest you have a walk through the winding streets of the old city centre. We will discover everything that has been going on within the city walls throughout history and we will especially find out more about the places where the power lied and still lies: the forums, the conventual area and the square. Distance: 1,68 kms.
The route starts in the THERMAE IN THE PONTEZUELAS STREET (1) located on the site where we used to find, until 2002, a drying place for hams, the remains of a house from the 1st century were found just outside the city walls as well as thermae which have been almost completely preserved
At only a few metres from the thermae, on the corner of the José Ramón Mélida and Sagasta street, a residential building was set up. In the basement of this building, is located The Archaeological Site of The Seven Chairswhose Interpretation Centre cannot be visited at the moment.
Then we reach THE TOWN GATES (2), a square with a fountain in the middle showing a bronze female statue. It represents archaeology as a woman dressed in Roman costumes, carrying a laurel in one of her hands. The sculpture was made by the famous local sculptor Juan de Ávalos as a tribute to the archaeologists who started the excavations in Mérida at the beginning of the 20th century. If we look at the background on the right, we discover another statue, in marble. It is the ideal representation of the Martyr Eulalia, patron saint of the city. It was made by another sculptor from Mérida, Eduardo Zancaza.
Walking through the Berzocana and San José streets, we come out onto the Sagasta street. The first site we find here is called the FORUM PORTICO (3). It is the corner of a monumental portico which was part of the impressive propaganda programme of the old Augusta Emerita Municipal Forum. This portico was built around the middle of the 1st century in the image and likeness of the Augustus Forum in Rome.
Down the street we come to THE DIANA TEMPLE (4), an Imperial Cult Temple situated at the back of a big square which was partially levelled as is shown at some places by the remains of a cryptoporticus. The rectangular temple rises over a high granite podium which ends in mouldings. On this podium there is a colonnade and the column tambours used to be plastered and painted. This colonnade surrounds the whole temple. At the front, in the south, it shows six columns on which a tympanum rested. You could use the staircase, of which only the substructure is preserved, to access the cella. Its exceptional state of preservation is due to the fact that, for centuries, the temple served as the foundations and skeleton for the renaissance palace of the Count of Corbos of which some parts are still preserved.
We cross the Romero Leal street, where some big ancestral homes from the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th century are still preserved, to get to ARCHAEOLOGICAL REMAINS AT THE CULTURAL CENTRE “ALCAZABA” (5), where we can see the remains of blocks of the Roman city limited by roads. These blocks show a peculiar mixture of structures from different times and with different functions. There is a high imperial public space of which we can still see a big pond which was subsequently re-used to build thermae.
From the Plaza del Rastro we see the sturdy front of The Saint James Conventual made of granite ashlars, behind the turret of a flanking tower which, up until not so many years ago, was part of the structure of a drying place for hams. You can enter this building through a semicircular arched gate. This building is now the seat of the Presidency of the Government of Extremadura.
The current aspect of THE PLAZA DE ESPAÑA (6) shows a neo-baroque marble fountain from the end of the 19th century, made at the workshop of Germano José do Salles in Lisbon. A pedestal comes out of a big round pond with cupids blowing on cornucopias sitting on dolphins. This pedestal holds two small ponds, which look like two round trays, profusely decorated with plant motifs. At the top there is a Corinthian capital. The preserved arcades are the result of several reforms.
The oldest building of all those surrounding the PLAZA DE ESPAÑA is THE SANTA MARÍA CO-CATHEDRAL (7). The find of some Visigothic pieces suggests that this is the place where the famous main cathedral of Santa Maria of Jerusalem stood, with its baptistery, the Episcopal palace and the atrium that connected them. The truth is that, once the city was re-conquered, a chapel was built here which was progressively extended. Today it is an example of archaic Gothic, meaning it is a very solid and squat temple with simple pinnacles in the chevet.
THE SANTA CLARA CHURCH (8) began to build in 1602 for the nuns of the order of Santa Clara but it was not finished until far into the 17th century. It is a unique piece of classicist baroque in spite of the many vicissitudes in its construction. Inside, in The Visigothic Collection, we can still see an enormous variety of testimonies to the civil and religious buildings from the great city that the Visigothic Mérida used to be, especially decorative pieces: cymatia, pilasters, windows, columns, latticework or pieces that were part of the liturgy in churches of the powerful bishopric of Mérida: inner doors, fonts, altars… we can also see laudas or tomb inscriptions of the Christians in that age as well as gold, silver, china and glass objects.
If we take the narrow alley between the chevet of the old Santa Clara Church and the back of the house of the Pacheco, we come out onto the small secluded square of Santa Clara. From there we go to another small square where we will find the FORMER HOSPITAL OF SAN JUAN DE DIOS (9) which is now the seat of the Autonomous Parliament. This baroque Franciscan foundation shows granite bases and corners while the rest of the building and the façade are made of brick. The inside is placed around a porticoed courtyard and you can see two floors. The first floor has semicircular arches and the second one has a gallery of segmental arches.
THE TRAJANO'S ARC (10), was the monumental access gate to the holy space (temenos) that surrounded a gigantic imperial cult temple. The semicircular arch that is preserved at 15 metres above the beginning of the pillars was the central opening of a gate with three arches. The two lateral ones were smaller and segmental arches. The whole structure is made out of granite ashlars.
The Prado Museum, the Royal Galician Academy of Fine Arts and the Santiago Cathedral Foundation jointly organize a monographic exhibition with works by Maestro Mateo for the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which offers the visitor the opportunity to know in depth a golden cost of viagra In the history of the basilica, between 1168 and 1211.
Near the arch there is the old Convent of Concepcion, founded by a man from Mérida who found fortune in Peru in the 16th century, Francisco Moreno de Almaraz. The building is a mixture of Renaissance and baroque style.
HOSPITAL OF JESÚS NAZARENO (11) is a building which has been continually reformed since the beginning of its construction in 1725. It has been a convent, a hospital for the poor, a field hospital, a prison and a museum. Today this building is one of the most luxurious and ancient paradors because it was inaugurated by no one less than King Alfonso 8th. It is worth going in and having a look at the small cloister inside. Its columns, which come from Roman or Visigothic buildings, show Kufic Arabian inscriptions on their shafts with pleas to Allah.
A few meters in the street Holguin, we can see the remains Temple of The Provincial Forum , where we can only see a corner of the podium of this temple. Its core is made out of concrete covered with ashlars. Some of the fragments of the preserved tambours of the columns, all in marble, show the magnificence of the construction of this building and especially its colossal size because the preserved part of the podium alone is 3.10 metres high.
Very close to the remains of this temple there is another important convent, the CHURCH OF EL CARMEN (12), that was built by the Order of the Barefoot Franciscans in the mid-18th century and it became a mental hospital after its confiscation. On the front of the church you can see some curious coats of arms of the city. It is another example of classicist baroque, the most prolific one of the city.