Roman Road at Italica
As the saying goes, ‘All roads lead to Rome’. This phrase came about due to a man called Ptolemy. He wrote an itinerary, a verbal map, which gave the distances between staging posts and towns throughout the Roman Empire in the 2nd Century AD. Whether by accident or design he called all the roads leading out of one area by the same name.
His itineraries always start at Rome. The road that led out of Rome and was followed to Spain was called the Via Aurelia. It became the Via Iulia at Genoa and then the Via Domitia and finally the Via Augusta at Tarragona. By the time the road gets to Baetica, an area roughly equating to Andalucia, there had been a number of road junctions as a result of which there are a few Via Augustas. So the whole network of roads was known by the same name and it was true they all led, eventually, to Rome. There is one notable exception in Andalucia, the Via de la Plata from Seville north to Santiago de Compostella. It was built by the Romans to bring silver from the mines at Burgos to Seville. It later became a pilgrimage route.
The Via Augusta was sometimes also called the Via Herculea.
Roman Bridge at Niebla
Roman Bridge at Merida
The most visible reminder of the Roman roads are the bridges. Whilst the roads tend to have been resurfaced many times the bridges often retain the original architecture albeit with a tarmac surface. Probably the best example in Spain is the bridge at Merida spanning the Rio Guadiana and marking the highest point of navigation on that river during Roman times. It has been repaired a number of times but the surface is still paved as it would have been originally.
Roman Bridge at Cordoba
The second best in my opinion is that at Cordoba with its massive abutments spanning the Guadalquivir again many times repaired but now a pedestrian only bridge with a modern paved surface. Both lead to imposing gates into their respective cities.
The roads were marked at intervals of one mile by a milestone and at periodic intervals by small settlements like Oba (Jimena de la Frontera), some fortified or protected by a tower such as the one at Carteia. The settlements tended to be about a days march apart.
The map shows the main roads and major towns
1. Gadir (Cadiz)
2. Baelo Claudia (Bolonia)
3. Mellaria (Tarifa)
4. Carteia (San Roque)
5. Calpe (Gibraltar)
6. Hispalis (Seville)
7. Onoba (Huelva)
8. Oba (Jimena de la Frontera)
10. Malaca (Malaga)
11. Iliberris (Granada)
12. Corduba (Cordoba)
13. Aurgi (Jaen)
14. Ilipla (Niebla)
15. Castulo (Linares)
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