Yes! There was a definite improvement in the weather. At least the rain had stopped. I only had 50miles to do to reach Merida – my next planned stop, so there was no great hurry
to leave Caceres
In fact, it was nearly 11 oclock before I departed and headed north for a few miles to reach the nearest motorway junction. An hour & 10 mins later, I arrived at Camping Merida. Reception was closed, with a notice in the window to the effect that I should find a pitch and return to reception at 18.00hrs.
After some lunch, I took a walk around the site. It’s situated two or three miles outside the town, on a main road leading to the A5 motorway. During the winter, much of the site is cordoned off, confining winter travellers to one side of the central roadway. Pitches are defined by rows of mature trees, with two pitches being back to back. There is one toilet block which is modern, clean and tidy. Water taps are spaced along the central roadway, with an electrical supply fitted at the end of each avenue of pitches – so a full length cable might be required.
Later in the afternoon I drove to the local Mercadona to stock up on a few supplies. If the forecast for tomorrow is correct, we should be in for a good day.
On the strength of the forecast, I got up early because I’d planned a busy day, so was ready to leave the site by 8.45. I took the road out of town, across the motorway and up into the hills. After six miles I’d reached the Prospero Reservoir, first created by the Romans to supply their city, Emerita Augusta with a water supply.
The dam is constructed of stone blocks supported by an earthen wall, then buttressed on both sides. It’s 425 metres long and 21 meters high. Water from the reservoir was carried in ducts with a fall of one metre in two kilometres so water never flowed faster that 150 litres per second. The water arrived in the town over the Aqueduct Los Milagros, which was next on my places to see.
Back in the car, I drove into town. I found a parking slot close to the river, but what now? Do I walk – which I don’t find easy these days – or do I unload the bike and take my chance with speeding traffic along very narrow streets. I decided to walk. First stretch was to the Alcazar, built by the Arab invaders in the 8th Century on the site of a Roman gateway and fort.. I bought my ticket which also gives entry to all the other places of interest. From the top of the walls there are some beautiful views across the river.
In the foreground is the Roman Bridge which was built to carry the Roman road from the south to the north of the Iberian peninsular. The bridge was first erected in 25BC and because the river is wide and susceptible to flooding, it is built on huge rectangular blocks with 60 arches. Midway across the river, the Romans built a huge island on which to carry some of the roadway. Because of the width of the river, the bridge is the longest existing Roman bridge throughout what was the old Roman Empire.
From the Alcazar I took a road slightly up hill, arriving at the Temple of Diana.
Not until the 17th Century was it given that name. We now know that the temple was built in honour of the Emperor Augustus since many artifacts relating to him and his family have been found here.
Just a 100 yards or so up the road is the Forum Portico. It was built around the middle of the 1st century in the image of the Augustus Forum in Rome. Close by is the Trajan Arch, one of the original entrances to their town.
Finally, a few streets away is the complex containing the arena and theatre.
Most arenas of the Roman period are built to a standard plan. Only the size of the arena changes, according to the status of the town. Oval in shape with tiered seating, and the floor of the arena being sanded with the central area covered with removable wooden planks. Below the floor were cells where gladiators and animals awaited their turn to become part of the performance. This one has been dated to the 8th C BC and was constructed to seat around 15000 people.
Next door to the Arena is the Roman Theatre built on the orders of Marcus Agrippa, a Roman general and son in law to Caesar Augustus. It had seating for 6000 spectators.
The sun was still shining; a few clouds had rolled in; but I’d had enough. It was back to the car for a very late lunch and a beer. Tomorrow is moving day again. Camping Villsom at Seville!
To see this blog with several more pictures see HERE