Hello Everyone! As you may have learned by now, Europe is filled with ancient roman ruins (as well as Game of Thrones filming locations). The south of Spain is certainly no exception and we took one of our free weekend days to explore the ancient Roman city of Italica.
This ancient city overlaps with modern day Santiponce, which is right outside of Sevilla and is easily accessible by public transportation from Plaza de Armas (one of Sevilla’s main bus stations). At the station you can take line 170 in the direction of Santiponce and get off at the last stop, Italica. It only takes you about a half hour to get to the ruins and the bus drops you off right in front of the entrance. Luckily, the entrance fee is only 1.50 euro. We were able to escape the small fee because at the time we were residents in the European Union.
Now, let’s delve into a little history about Italica and its part in the Roman Empire. This city was settled in 206 BC in order to house the veterans from the Second Punic Wars. They had just won the war, they were far from where they started, and they needed a place to live. It was close to the Guadalquivir River and therefore fairly easy to control.
Although it was positioned near the larger city, Hispalis (modern day Sevilla), it turned into an important cultural center for the Roman Empire. Later, it became the birthplace of two Roman Emperors, Trajan and Hadrian. Italica saw a big expansion under the leadership of these two emperors and you can get a sense of this from the ruins.
The ruins of Italica are very well preserved and the area they cover is large. If you are visiting on a hot and sunny day be sure to bring sunscreen because there is very little refuge. We couldn’t believe all mosaic tile floors that were still nearly entirely intact. On top of that you are able to see the foundations of their thermal baths and houses of worship. These parts are all very beautiful, but the most popular part of Italica is the amphitheater.
This amphitheater, after its construction, was the third largest in the Roman Empire. However, we didn’t decide to visit Italica for the grandeur of its amphitheater. Our draw to Italica was the fact that it was used as filming location for season 7 of Game of Thrones. We wanted to get a taste of Khaleesi’s dragon pit (speculated) before we saw it in the upcoming season. After being inside the amphitheater we knew exactly why they chose this location for the dragon pit. Although it is very well preserved, it still looks like ancient ruins. This is exactly what they needed considering the dragon pit in King’s Landing is in ruins from Robert’s rebellion and the supposed end of dragons.
Needless to say, we spent most of our time at Italica inside the amphitheater doing our best Mother of Dragons impressions. Also, the amphitheater provides the only refuge from the sun in the tunnels below it. We recommend saving the amphitheater for last. That way you get the chance to hide away from the sun for a while after a long walk around the rest of Italica.
If you find yourself visiting Sevilla in the south of Spain, definitely take half a day to see Italica. It is only a short bus ride away and you get to see some beautiful roman ruins without the bustle of tourists you might find in a place like Rome. Although our motivation stemmed from Game of Thrones, we believe that anyone would enjoy time spent exploring Italica. (But if you are a GOT fan, keep an eye out for Italica when you are watching season 7)
Stay tuned for our upcoming post and video blog about our festivities at Feria this past Spring!
Hasta luego, Mark