The Roman bridge over the Guadiana was the longest in Roman Spain -- about half a mile -- and consisted of 64 arches. It was constructed of granite under Trajan or Augustus, and then restored by the Visigoths in 686. Philip II ordered further refurbishment in 1610, and work was also done in the 19th century. The bridge crosses the river south of the center of Old Mérida, its length increased because of the way it spans two forks of the river, including an island in midstream. In 1993, it was restored yet again and turned into a pedestrian walkway. A semicircular suspension bridge was built to carry the heavy auto traffic and save the Roman bridge for future generations. Before the restoration and change, this span served as a main access road into Mérida, enduring the evolution of transportation from hooves and feet to trucks and automobiles.

Another sight of interest is the old hippodrome, or Circus Maximus, which could seat about 30,000 spectators for chariot races. The original Roman masonry was carted off for use in other buildings, and today the site looks more like a parking lot, though excavations have uncovered rooms that may have housed gladiators. The former circus is at the end of Avenida Extremadura on the northeastern outskirts of Old Town, about .8km (1/2 mile) north of the Roman bridge and a 10-minute walk east of the railway station.

Arco Trajano (Trajan's Arch) lies near the heart of the Old Town beside Calle Trajano, about a block south of the Parador Vía de la Plata. An unadorned triumphal arch, it measures 15m (48 ft.) high and 9m (30 ft.) across.


Acueducto de los Milagros is the most intact of the town's two remaining Roman aqueducts; this one brought water from Proserpina, 5km (3 miles) away. From the aqueducts, water was fed into two artificially created lakes, Cornalvo and Proserpina. The aqueduct is northwest of Old Town, lying to the right of the road to Cáceres, just beyond the railway tracks. Ten arches still stand.

The latest monument to be excavated is the Temple of Diana (dedicated to Caesar Augustus). Squeezed between houses on a narrow residential street, it was converted in the 17th century into the private residence of a nobleman, who used four of the original Corinthian columns in his architectural plans. The temple lies at the junction of Calle Sagasta and Calle Romero Leal in the center of town.

While in the area, you can explore the 13th-century Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor, Plaza de España, on the west side of the square. It has a 16th-century chapel graced with Romanesque and Plateresque features.


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