PROVINCIA DE CÁCERES – A real Roman treasure in the west of Spain: Along the historic Silver Route (Vía de la Plata), which connects Seville with Astorga, there are remains of a flourishing Roman trading center. The impressive remains form a true Roman city and interesting to visit.
The Roman city of Cáparra enjoyed great prosperity due to the constant flow of people and goods, including the valuable gold from the northwest of the peninsula. This was mined in Las Medulas (León), once one of the largest gold mines in the Roman Empire. The city now hides another unique arch in Spain and an amphitheater.
First century AD
In the first century AD, some 110 Roman miles (about 167 kilometers by car today) from Mérida, a weary traveler would be met by the prosperity of the town of Cáparra, now located in the municipality of Oliva de Plasencia in Caceres. Crossing the stone bridge of the Ambroz River, the noise of the amphitheater would tell him about the fierce gladiator fights. Walking further along the main street, the Decumanus, he would come across the remarkable tetrapylon. This is a quadruple arch that is unique in Spain and is centrally located in the city.
This four-sided tetrapylon was surrounded by thermal baths and shops, and led to the impressive forum. The organization of the city was carefully planned. The local topography was taken into account. The forum was the heart of political activity, with a temple dedicated to Jupiter. Well-known figures such as Marco Fidio Marcer financed important constructions, including the tetrapylon, to demonstrate their political power.
Cáparra had a flourishing trade, rich agriculture and livestock breeding, and even had an advanced drainage system. This reflects the integration of the Spanish population into the Roman political and cultural lifestyle. Because it was a mandatory stop, the city became extremely wealthy, reaching 16 hectares at its peak.
In the public baths near the forum, residents could relax in their pools and travelers and merchants could wash off road dust. The water needed for consumption was most likely extracted from a nearby reservoir and there may have been an aqueduct of which no evidence has been found. However, it is believed that this was built by a certain Albinus.
Decay and oblivion
Despite its glorious past, Cáparra suddenly disappeared from the map in the Middle Ages. Indeed, from the moment the Umayyad Caliphate conquered the Visigothic kingdom of Toledo, Cáparra has not been mentioned as a transit point for the invading host. It therefore seems that the five meter high walls, built in the 3rd century, never saw any battle. It is a mystery why this once vibrant city faded from history into oblivion.
Archaeological research and revaluation
Several archaeological investigations were carried out in the 20th century. The Junta de Extremadura has put the city back on the map as part of the Alba Plata project, complete with an interpretation center. In 2016, even the amphitheater was renovated, contributing to the cultural promotion of the site.
This Roman treasure in Extremadura is free to visit. You can reach it via the A66 highway, exit 455 to Guijo de Granadilla. Then you take the CC-13.3 and after 5 kilometers you arrive at the site. Until May 31, it is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 2am and from 4pm to 7pm. Only open on Sunday mornings. The same in the summer season, but you can go there in the afternoon until 8 p.m.