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The Roman Ruins in Spain are some of my favorite national landmarks of all time. If you´re a history geek and secretly dream of time-traveling back to the times of the Great Roman Empire – don´t miss this ultimate list of unique Spanish historical sites.

Roman Historical Sites in Spain

The Romans in Spain

With the big battle names like Numantia, Colenda, or Tiermes we could claim with all certainty that the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula was far from easy for the Great Roman Empire. Hispania (e.g former Spain) back then was not a united country, but rather a mixture of different small nations. Each of them had a different approach toward the Roman conquerors.

Initially, the main conflict which had brought the Romans to Spain was The Second Punic War (between Carthago Nova, present-day Cartagena, and the Republic of Rome). Since 209 A.C the Romans became the rulers of the greatest territories of Hispania, from Guadalquivir to Cartagena and all the way up to Sagunto.

Also read: Top Romantic Legends from Spain You´ll Love

In spite of constant military conflicts in Hispania, the continuous Romanization of art, religion, architecture, dress code, and laws had a huge impact on the local culture.

The Roman Cultural Heritage in Spain

Currently, some of the most impressive Roman ruins in Spain include aqueducts, temples, roadways, lighthouses, triumphal arches, circuses, sepulchral monuments, walls, palaces, bridges, and of course amphitheaters. In this post, I´ll be sharing with you some of my favorite places across the Iberian Peninsula.

Despite a large number of fairytale places, otherworldly landscapes, dreamy castles, and charming small towns, Spanish landmarks linked to Roman times are never ignored on my road trips. I find them simply fascinating. It’s a lot like I´ve already confessed to you while exploring the Roman mosaics in Cyprus: somehow most of the things our humanity creates recently constantly need restoration or renovation, while those lavish floors of The House of Dionysus in Cyprus date back to the 2nd century A.D.

Let´s explore some of the most stunning Roman ruins in Spain and add new spots to your Spain Bucket List.

Top Roman Ruins in Spain

1. Cartagena

cartagena spain roman site
Roman Forum Museum

Cartagena is one of the most impressive stops on a hunt for some impressive Roman ruins in Spain, as well as one of the top things to do in the Murcia Region. The city, full of ambitious Roman sites, literally takes you back in time to the time of the ancient city of Carthago-Nova and the peak of the Empire´s glory in Hispania.

Must-stops in Cartagena to explore the Roman Cultural Heritage:

  • Municipal Archaeological Museum (built over the 4th-century necropolis of San Anton)
  • Interpretation Center of the Punic Rampat (houses the rests of the Punic wall, one of the city´s first defensive walls)
  • The House of Fortune (the remains of the ancient roman road and house walls, with the fresco-painted decoration inside The House of Fortune)
  • Augusteum (one of Cartagena´s first religious and worship places)
  • Roman Forum Museum (one of the largest urban archaeological parks in Spain)
  • Museum Roman Theatre (is divided into 2 important Roman historical sites – the museum’s archeological items found during excavations and the Theatre´s restoration itself)
  • Amphitheatre ( built in 1st century AD and located beneath the preset bullring)
  • The Blind Tower or Torreciega in Spanish (a Roman tower without windows that was once part of a local necropolis)

To see more check my Instagram REELS – Roman Ruins in Cartagena.

2. Tarragona

Roman Ruins in Spain - Tarragona
Roman Ruins in Spain – Tarragona

Alongside Montserrat, the city of Tarragona is known as one of the most emblematic day trips from the Spanish artsy capital of Barcelona. Nevertheless, if you´re a history geek, a day to explore Tarragona´s Roman historical sites might feel too brief.

The city of Tarragona is famous in Catalonia and the whole of Spain for some of the greatest Roman historical sites in Europe:

  • The Roman Amphitheatre ( where Gladiator contests and public executions took place; was built in the II century and accommodated around 15 000 people)
  • The Roman Circus (300m/100m wide, it was used for numerous events, like chariot races, and accommodated around 30 000 people)
  • Pretorio ( the only remaining palatium in Spain built around I A.C; currently houses Tarragona History Museum)
  • St. Anthony Gateway or Portal San Antoni in Spanish (a monumental gate on the wall of Tarragona)
  • Arch of Bera (built on the Via Augusta to pay tribute to the Roman emperor Augustus)
  • The Ferreras Aqueduct (located 4 km north of the city)
  • Tower of the Scipios (a funerary monument of Tarragona)

Also read: Historical Valencia – The Borgia Route in Spain

Also, one of Tarragona´s greatest advantages is its accessibility. You have numerous travel options to get to Tarragona from Barcelona by car, bus, or train (100km). Moreover, Tarragona can be also reached from Castellon (180 km), or even Valencia (250km). The city has a port and is often an important stop on most of Mediterranean Cruises.

3. Merida

merida spain roman ruins
Roman ruins in Spain – Merida (Photo by Jordi Vich Navarro)

Merida is the only one of the Roman ruins in Spain that is still on my Spain Bucket List. Even though the region of Extremadura was relatively close (2-3h of driving) on many of my Spanish road trips, especially while exploring Andalusia, The Don Quijote Route, or even Lisbon. The Roman cultural heritage of Merida and Extremadura province is so huge that I really want to make it a separate getaway trip anytime soon.

Must-see Roman historical sites of Merida:

  • Roman Theatre of Merida
  • Amphitheatre of Merida
  • San Lazaro Aqueduct
  • Los Milagros Aqueduct
  • Roman Circus
  • Roman Bridge
  • Arch of Trajano
  • House of Mithraeum
  • Roman Art National Museum
  • Proserpina Reservoir
  • Cornalvo Reservoir
  • Roman Thermae in Alange
  • Temple de Diana

I assume by now you have realized why I didn´t take a simple day trip to Merida in order to visit its famous Roman Theatre. There are simply way too many impressive Roman ruins to explore nearby. Not to mention the nearest Region of Caceres with its Caparra, Coria, Alcantara, Garovillas de Alconetar, and Temple of Trajan.

4. Segovia

educate of Segovia
The Aqueduct of Segovia

The Aqueduct of Segovia is one of the most famous Roman ruins in Spain and one of the top Spanish landmarks. Built around the 1st century A.D., the remains of the initial structure are 28,5m tall and 16km long. Archeologists claim that the Aqueduct of Segovia was once one of the biggest and most ambitious projects of its kind. It supplied water from the nearest Frio River source, 18 km from Segovia.

The Aqueduct of Segovia is also a subject of mysterious local legends in Spain.

While it is definitely the most impressive one of the Spanish aqueducts left from the times of the Roman Empire, the remains of smaller watercourses can be found across the Iberian Peninsula. For instance, while hiking near Valencia last time, I had a chance to walk over the Aqueducto Romano de Peña Cortada.

If you are willing to search for more Roman ruins in Spain nearby, note that the city of Palencia (located within 1h 40min driving distance) is known for having two Roman Villas – La Quintanilla de La Cueza and La Olmeda (in Pedros de la Vega).

5. Cadiz

Roman Ruins in Spain – Cadiz

While being one of the most underrated cities in Spain, Cadiz is truly a cornucopia of history. While wandering around the city you can find traces of different epochs and civilizations – from Phoenicians, Romans, and Moorish, to Christopher Columbus sites and the inaction of the Spanish Liberal Constitution in 1812. No wonder there are so many epic things to see in Cadiz.

Nevertheless, back in 1980 while excavating the remains of Castillo de la Villa, the Roman Theatre of Cadiz was discovered by a pure accident. Archeologists assure that during the 1st century B.C. it was one of the biggest Roman Theatres in Spain. Although it is not as well preserved as the ones in Merida and Cartagena.

Within a 1h 15 mins drive from Cadiz, you can find another historical gem – Baelo-Claudia. It is located nearby Tarifa, one of my favorite places in Spain. Baelo-Claudia is an ancient Roman town of Hispania, which dates back to the end of the 2nd century B.C.

6. Cuenca

Segobriga Archaelogical site is one of the top places to visit in the Spanish province of Cuenca. It was once a prosperous Roman city with a great strategic location, conveniently situated between Carthago Nova (present-day Cartagena) and Toletum (present-day Toledo). I love that this archaeological site offers a web with a virtual visit to Segobriga.

Also read: The Don Quixote Route

This place was also a source of ancient Spanish legends, including the story of Viriato, a Lusitanian leader from the nearest Segobriga town, and Tormo Alto in the Enchanted City of Cuenca.

7. Soria

Medinacelli Roman Arch
Roman ruins in Spain – Medinacelli

While I managed to visit the impressive Roman Arch of Medinacelli, during my recent Central Spain road trip – both Numantia and Tiermes are currently on the top of my Spain bucket list for the upcoming year.

Numantia is one of the most legendary names in the war history of the Great Roman Empire. Back in 133 B.C, it was a regular Celtiberian settlement involved in the ongoing conflict with Rome since 153 B.C. But its heroic resistance to the Roman Empire made this town eternally famous. After 13 months of siege, the Numantians decided to burn the city before surrendering it to the Romans.

Even in modern Spanish, there is an expression “defensa numantina” – describing the tenacious defense of one´s position to the limit, often in desperate conditions.

Also read: Wild West Town experience in Spain

Tiermes or Termantia (currently Montejo de Tiermes) in Roman times was a Celtiberian hill fort, allied to Numantia during the Celtiberian wars. Historians claim that Tiermes had survived a few more years after the tragical siege of Numantia, but later became part of the Clunia region. The archaeological site of Clunia (or Clunia Sulpicia) is located in Peñalba de Castro (Burgos), within a 1h15mins drive from Soria.

As to the Roman Arch of Medinacelli, it is the only triple Roman arch still standing in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. The arch is around 13 m long, 2 wide, and 8 m tall. Besides this, the ancient city gateway is located on the top of the hill and you get a beautiful panorama of the region.

8. A Coruña

Finisterre Spain
Finisterre

The Great Roman Empire must have had impressive lighthouse constructions in all of the main ports of the former Hispania, but historians underline the absence of their detailed descriptions in the ancient texts. Even though the title of the greatest Roman lighthouse might belong to Turris Caepionis ( present-day Chipiona in Cadiz) in Spain, The Tower of Hercules is the only Roman lighthouse that kept serving its original aims through the centuries of Spanish history. It was likely built in the 1st-2nd centuries at Finis Terrae (present-day Finisterre), meaning “the end of the world”. Because Romans believed this west coast of Galicia was where the known world ended.

9. Zaragoza

While Zaragoza is known worldwide for housing one of the most impressive Spanish cathedrals, it is also a great place to search for Roman Ruins in Spain.

The city was founded in the 1st century B.C as Caesaraugusta (in the honor of its founder Caesar Augustus). The main stops on a brief Roman sightseeing route are The Roman Walls and museums – Museo del Foro de Caesaraugusta and Museo del Puerto Fluvial, Museo de las Termas Publicas.

In a driving distance of 1h30min from the city of Zaragosa, you can find a unique Roman Mausoleums of Fabara and “Altar de los Moros“( also called Mausoleo de los Atilios) in Sabada.

10. Sagunto

Roman Ruins in Spain – Sagunto

Sagunto (or the former Arse and later on Saguntum) is known for a similar heroic resistance story as Numantia, except for the fact that the city of Sagunto was Rome´s ally in a war with Ancient Carthage. Its important geographical location in between Carthago Nova and Tarraco, made Sagunto an important strategical town. Historians claim that when the ancient city of Sagunto was losing its battle against Ancient Carthage, the locals first waited for help from Rome (which never arrived) and then burned every property and object of wealth in order not to leave them to the enemy. Only 5 years later the Romans reconquered the city back and started to rebuild it.

Another curious Roman cultural heritage, that can be found in the nearest Province of Castellon, is represented by the Millenary Olive Trees. Some of these giants are more than 2000 years old. Historians believe they were once brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Romans. You can spot 2 Olive Giants right by the entrance to the small village of Canet lo Roig, but to explore more – you´d need to be ready for a 6-km-long hike, called Ruta de los Olivos Milenarios. It´s one of the coolest hikes in the whole of the Castellon Province.

11. Seville and Malaga

roman ruins in spain malaga
Roman Ruins in Spain – Malaga

Here, I´ve put together Seville´s Italica, Malaga, Carmona, and Ruins of Acinipo, as all of these are relatively close to each other and make a great route for exploring the Roman presence in the region. In fact, Malaga, Seville, Cordoba, and local villages nearby, have enough small Roman historical sites to make a separate post, so I´m taking only a few of my favorites here.

Seville

While Seville is one of the most beautiful Spanish cities and an ultimate Romantic destination on the Iberian Peninsula, you can also travel back to Roman times and explore one of the most impressive Roman ruins in Spain – Conjunto Arqueológico de Italica.

Italica was once an important Roman Capital, the first city the Roman Empire founded outside of Italian territory. This place was once a trending spot for the aristocracy of Hispania and 2 of the Roman Emperors, Trajan and Adriano, were born here. Italica is one of the must-stops in Andalusia, due to its gorgeous mosaics (The Mosaic of the Birds, The Neptune Mosaic, and the Planetary Mosaic) and impressive Amphitheater. Also, don´t miss the Archaeological Museum of Seville.

Carmona

Only within a 30min of drive from Seville, you can explore more Roman ruins in Spain by making a stop at Carmona. The town is famous for housing the Roman Necropolis and Remains of the ancient Roman Walls. Museum of Carmona and City Hall house some rare Roman mosaics.

Malaga

The city of Malaga is known for its Roman Theatre, spectacularly located at the foot of Alcazaba, the city’s Moorish citadel. Like many other Roman ruins in Spain, it was discovered by accident in 1951, during the construction of a cultural center.

Also, the nearby town of Antequera houses remains of the Santa Maria Roman baths and its museum proudly exposes a few unique Roman art pieces – The Bronze statue of Ephebus of Antequera and Sculpture of Venus of Antequera

Acinipo Ruins

The ancient city of Acinipo can be found at Ronda la Vieja (Old Ronda) 15km north of Ronda. Built in the 1st century AD, it was once a very prosperous settlement with a population of around 5,000 people. One of the most impressive Roman sights is the remains of Acinipio Theatre, with a capacity to gather 2000 people.

For more Spain travel ideas check my Pinterest Boards – The Ultimate Spain Travel Collection and Travel to Spain.

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*The images on the Pin were taken in Cartagena: The Roman Forum Museum, The Roman Theatre, and The House of Fortune.