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Mérida Sorroundings

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In this part we propose several excursions at a few kilometres outside the city. You can consult all the available information here and we remind you that, before you start the routes we will now propose, you must give back your multimedia tourist guide at any official centre. The topic of the excursions we will propose now is water and the landscape it has created here together with humans: the meadows. This liquid element was of vital importance for the creation and survival of Augusta Emerita throughout time. Water for industries - the thermae, the wells, the houses… - brought from marshes through the hydraulic systems show us the level of perfection the Romans achieved in both engineering and the application of the origins of topography. And water for health - hydrotherapy, which is currently very in - was a common practice among the Romans. Augusta Emerita had a spa where you can still go and enjoy yourself today. Apart from the three excursions we propose here, it is important to highlight other interesting points as well, the Dolmen of Lácara, a funerary construction located in the Meadow of Lácara which was part of a dolmen territory covering the mountain rig of San Pedro and which is now the biggest dolmen of the peninsula.

1. PROSERPINA RESERVOIR

At about five kilometres northwest of the city, there is a Roman marsh which used to be called Albuera de Carija and which changed its name to Proserpina marsh after the discovery in the 19th century, of an inscription of a woman calling this goddess of the underworld to punish those who had stolen the laundry she had hung up. Proserpina is now one of the best conditioned fresh water beaches of Extremadura.

The reservoir, one of the biggest of the antiquity, is 425 metres long and 21 metres high and it closes a natural bassin in which two streams converge and which also collects rainwater and water from a spring. It shows various construction phases. The oldest one, from the 1st century which you can find underwater now, is a wall of ashlars with ashlar buttresses upstream. The ones added afterwards (between the 2nd and the 17th century) create a sloping front with buttresses upstream. These extensions were made either to increase the capacity of the basin or because the original basin was clogged with mud and since it was impossible to dredge it, it was extended. Downstream the reservoir rested on a great fill of land. Backed against the reservoir and crammed into the fill, there are two towers used to access the water supply at different heights on the reservoir wall. From these towers, the water went to the hydraulic system which reached the north of the city before crossing the Albarregas valley via the aqueduct of Los Milagros.

If we want to know the importance this liquid element had for life in the Colony, it is indispensable to visit the Water Interpretation Centre located in the surroundings of the reservoir.

Proserpina Reservoir

2. RESERVOIR AND THE NATURE RESERVE OF CORNALVO

After visiting the Nature Reserve Interpretation Centre, located at the entrance of the park, we will have to travel for about four kilometres until we reach the reservoir. This reservoir is located northeast of Mérida at the beginning of the hydraulic system Aqua Augusta, which provided water for the whole southern area of the city. Between two hills, it collects the water coming from channels and dams built in the Sierra Bermeja, as well as water coming from existing wells in the basin of the reservoir. Then, along a stretch of about 15 kilometres, channels are added to the main system bringing water from different springs like the one of Borbollón for example.

The primitive construction from the Augustean age was made up of a collection tower covered with dressed ashlars which was united to the reservoir wall through a parapet walk over a big semicircular arch. It seems that the original reservoir was constituted of a core of concrete cells filled with compacted earth, covered with a sloping wall of ashlars. Today this is all masked by a construction built in the first quarter of the 20th century.

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 viagra In the history of the basilica, between 1168 and 1211.

Downstream, the wall rests on a colossal shoulder of land. The part of the reservoir that is preserved is 200 metres long and 18 metres high. Our visit to the marsh must end with a walk through the oak groves and pastures of the Natural Reserve as well as a visit to the country house of Campomanes, a gift of the people of Mérida to who used to be Minister of Treasury under Charles 3rd.

Cornalvo Reservoir

3. THERMAE AND THE CASTLE OF ALANGE

At 17 kilometres south of Mérida, at an exceptionally beautiful place, some baths with beneficial water (balnea) called Aquae were built in times of the Flavia dynasty. At this spa, we can still enjoy these healing waters that have proven to be efficient as is shown by the inscription we see in the entrance courtyard of the premises, written by the governor of Capadocia, Licinius Sereniano to thank the goddess Juno for healing his little daughter; Varinia Serena.

A good part of its original structure is still preserved: a rectangular building with two circular twin rooms. These rooms have walls which open in exedras that support the weight of the enormous hemispherical cupolas which end in a circular oculus similar to those of the famous Pantheon in Rome, through which light and air entered the room.

We must really go have a look at the remains of the fortress known as “Castle of the Snake” on top of the hill next to the town. From its walls we will have the opportunity to see one of the most beautiful landscapes of Extremadura showing the magnificent marsh of Alange on the foreground.

In this castle the rebellious Ibn Marwan took refuge each time he rebelled against the Cordovan Umayyad in the 4th century. He was the one who founded Badajoz. After it was taken by the Christians in 1234, Fernando 2nd donated it to the Order of Saint James. Almost all the preserved pieces, amongst others the keep, date back to this time.

Balneario de Alange

4. DOLMEN LÁCARA

The dolmens were funeral functionality works whose construction involved the whole community. Were places of worship, landmarks of power and territorial demarcation but above all, they served as a tomb for groups of prominent figures from the Final Neolithic and the beginning of the Copper Age.

The Meadow Lacara is located today in a beautiful landscape. It has a long corridor, about 20 meters long, divided into three parts. This gives access to a polygonal burial chamber about 5 meters in diameter. It consists of five large pieces of granite (megaliths), more than 5 meters high, on supporting as many Cyclopean slabs that are not retained. The entire set would buried under a giant mound of earth.

It is, today, the largest dolmen of the Peninsula and was part of a dolmen territory that ran the Sierra de San Pedro.

Dolmen de Lácara