Walking the Camino: In Roman footsteps along the Rua de la Plata

Although these days the Camino Frances is the most well travelled pilgrim path to Santiago de Compostela, the Via de la Plata is a much older route that commenced in the 12th C.  This lesser known trail follows the ancient Roman ‘Silver’ road that passes through Sevillia, Merida, Caceres and Salamanca. Acclaimed as a great engineering feat it pre dates the Romans who built on the foundations laid by former civilisations.

Those Roman stone masons were a bit quirky!

Those Roman stone masons were a bit quirky!

 

Roman tile work in Italica near Seville

Roman tile work in Italica near Seville

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So far most of our journey has been by minibus allowing extended time to explore the fascinating historical sites in major centres. Our first real taste of things Roman was in Italica, an archeological complex situated near Seville. This site built by Hadrian in 2 B.C. was the first permanent Roman settlement in the southern Iberian Peninsula. Of particular interest were the mosaic tiled floors in the houses of nobles. If you look closely you can see that the ancient stone mansions had a great sense of humour!

Can you spot the Roman sense of humour here?

Can you spot the Roman sense of humour here?


Next day in Merida we encountered the most important remains of Roman antiquity uncovered so far in Spain. This includes a well preserved amphitheatre and a theatre (or playhouse) that is still in use, an Islamic Alcazaba built on the foundations of a a Roman fortress and one of the longest Roman bridges in Spain.  The remains of the Temple of Diana were a special highlight for some!

In Merida at the Temple of Diana

In Merida at the Temple of Diana

 

Those Romans certainly knew how to build bridges

Those Romans certainly knew how to build bridges

 

 

 

 

 

 

After an overnight stop in Caceres where, apart from historic focused sight seeing we celebrated the birthday of one member of our group, we arrived in the beautiful University city of Salamanca.  By now we all decided that a break from archeology, cathedral spotting and other history related endeavour was in order. With the help of our driver Xavier and our Spanish guide, we found a peaceful section of the Via de la Plata where we walked for half a day along farming trails and quiet country roads.  How fortunate were we to enjoy the serenity of walking through fields of cork trees, past cows dozing or munching on lush green grass and rich pastureland filled with wheat and corn meal.

On the Rua de la Plata near Salamanca

On the Rua de la Plata near Salamanca

The sign and smiles say it all!

The sign and smiles say it all!

On the Rua de la Plata near Salamanca

On the Rua de la Plata near Salamanca

On farming tracks through cork trees near Salamanca

On farming tracks through cork trees near Salamanca

The colours of of journey along the Rua de la Plata

The colours of of journey along the Rua de la Plata

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This long distance walk (in perfect weather) was a fitting introduction to the third and final stage of our journey that commences in a couple of days along the Camino Portuguese.

Along the Rua de la Plata in Roman Merida

Along the Rua de la Plata in Roman Merida

Colourful gardens beside the University of Salamanca

Colourful gardens beside the University of Salamanca

A quiet corner inside the University of Salamanca

A quiet corner inside the University of Salamanca

This entry was posted in 2014 Camino Mozarabe, May, Travel Enriched. Bookmark the permalink.