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Exploring the Wonders of Italica:  Seville's Ancient Gem

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Italica Archeological site from Googlemaps

Seville, Spain, is a city steeped in history, boasting a rich cultural heritage that spans centuries. While many visitors flock to the city to experience its vibrant flamenco scene, taste delicious tapas, traditional Spanish cuisine, and marvel at the stunning architecture of the Alcazar, there's a hidden gem just a 20-25 minute drive from the city center that often goes unnoticed: the ancient Roman city of Italica. Italica was the first Roman settlement in Spain and the first Roman city outside of Italy.  Entry is free to citizens of the EU, with ID.  You can take a tour or go on your own.  We went on our own.  The fee for non-EU citizens when we visited was 1.50€.  If you are interested in visiting, check the current entry fee.  The visit can take 1-2 hours.  Once you enter the ruin, you can explore it at your own pace.  The visit gives you access to the Roman theater and the town with its mosaics and examples of ‘domus’ houses (for the upper classes).  This is a list of some fascinating facts that make Italica a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and travelers looking to uncover Spain's ancient past. 

Italica Archeological site from Googlemaps

Birthplace of Emperors

Italica was the first Roman city founded on the Iberian Peninsula and it holds the honor of being the birthplace of two of Rome's most influential emperors: Trajan, Hadrian (and also possibly Thodosius). Trajan, who ruled from 98 to 117 AD, and Hadrian, who reigned from 117 to 138 AD, both left a profound mark on the Roman Empire. Their birth in Italica is a testament to the city's significance in the Roman world.

aerial view of Italica's amphitheater

photo from

Italica's amphitheater stage
Italica's amphitheater stage

Amphitheater Marvel

One of Italica's standout features is its exceptionally well-preserved amphitheater. This massive arena once accommodated around 25,000 spectators, making it the third-largest in the Roman Empire. Visitors can still see the seating areas, tunnels, and chambers where gladiators and wild beasts once entertained the masses.

mosaica from Italica
Italica's mosaics
Italica's mosaics

Mosaics That Tell Stories

The city's Roman villas are adorned with intricate and beautifully preserved mosaics. These mosaics, often depicting mythological scenes, are a testament to the artistic and cultural influences of the Roman period. They provide invaluable insights into the daily lives and beliefs of Italica's inhabitants.

Italica's votive plaques

Votive Plaques

Votive plaques with engraved feet that are dedicated to Nemesis are at the entrance of the amphitheater.  The inscription says Aurelius-Polyticus/Nemesi-Praesenti which translates to Aurelio Politico dedicates it to Nemesis the Present.

Italica's baths

A City of Splendid Baths

Roman culture placed a significant emphasis on public baths, and Italica was no exception. The city boasts a series of well-preserved thermal baths complete with cold, warm, and hot rooms, as well as an impressive frigidarium (cold plunge pool). These baths give us a glimpse into the Roman passion for hygiene and socializing.

Collective Latrine of Italica
Italica's collective latrine

Collective Latrine

The excavations discovered remainders of a collective latrine.  The continuous bench that was constructed of stone that had holes for its use as a toilet.  It was placed above a running water drain to evacuate the residues.  Next to it were buckets with toilet brushes made with natural sponges and wooden handles, used for the subsequent cleaning of the users.

Italica - Game of Thrones Scene

photo from

A Mysterious Connection to Game of Thrones

For fans of the popular television series "Game of Thrones," Italica might look oddly familiar. Some of its well-preserved ruins were used as a filming location for the show's seventh season. The amphitheater became the Dragonpit in King's Landing, adding a modern touch to its ancient allure.

Italica's tunnels
Italica's passageways

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Italica's historical significance and remarkable preservation have earned it a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This recognition highlights its importance in preserving the legacy of the Roman Empire and its influence on Spanish culture.

Easy Access from Seville

Italica's proximity to Seville makes it a convenient day trip for tourists. Located just a short drive northwest of the city center, it offers a chance to step back in time without venturing too far from Seville's bustling streets.  We took a public bus to and from Seville to Italica.

Italica in Seville, Spain, is a place where history comes to life. From its connection to influential Roman emperors to its remarkable amphitheater and captivating mosaics, Italica is a treasure trove of ancient wonders. Whether you're a history enthusiast, a "Game of Thrones" fan, or simply a traveler seeking a unique experience, Italica should be on your list of must-visit destinations in Seville. It's a place where the past is vividly present, ready to transport you to the days of the Roman Empire.

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