Puente Romano

The Puente Romano and the other Roman ruins that can be found in Cordoba provide testament to the fact that Spain wasn't always Spanish. The Romans were just one group that laid claim to the Iberian Peninsula in the past, and Cordoba itself is actually of Roman heritage.

In 169 BC, the first Roman colony was founded on the site of modern-day Cordoba, and during the time of Julius Caesar, this settlement served as a regional capital. Renowned Roman philosophers, orators, and poets hailed from Cordoba, and they include both Seneca the Younger and Seneca the Elder. There is actually a statue of Seneca the Younger found near the Puerta de Almodovar, and it honors one of the city's most famous sons.

When the Visigoths eventually took over Cordoba in the late sixth century, the colony had grown into a verifiable city. The Moors came next, capturing Cordoba in 711 AD, and as was the case throughout Spain, they took to building many of their edifices on top of the older Roman ones and Roman materials were often used. The famed Mezquita, for example, features columns that were from an ancient Roman temple.

As was true of the Moors, the Spanish often took to building structures right on top of other older ones. Churches and cathedrals in particular were built upon the former mosques that were built upon old Roman temples. In fact, the main Christian cathedral in town rises up from the very center of the grand Mezquita mosque, and some of the Fernandine Churches that were built after the Christian reconquest sit on the sites of older mosques and temples.

The fact that many Spanish buildings were built on top of another culture's previous structures is fascinating, especially when you take into account the fact that the Spanish continued this practice when they went to the New World. In the Peru city of Cuzco, for example, visitors can see clear evidence of this. Spanish-built structures sit on top of super-sturdy Inca walls.

In addition to the columns that were used to help build the amazing Mezquita, the main Roman ruins in Cordoba include a bridge over the Guadalquivir River. This bridge, which is aptly known as the Puente Romano (Roman Bridge), was built during the reign of Augustus and boasts a visually impressive sixteen arches. Also among its main features is a statue of St. Raphael, who is the patron saint of Cordoba. This statue, which is found in the middle of the Puente Romano, was created in 1651 by Bernabe Gomez del Rio. It should be noted that the Puente Romano in Cordoba has undergone renovations on more than one occasion. These renovations have served to make sure that the more than 800-foot-long structure doesn't crumble any time soon. It is some 2,000 years old after all.

The Roman Temple of Cordoba is the city's other main relic in terms of Roman ruins. Found next to City Hall at 29 Claudio Marcelo street, it hails from the first century, thus making it one of the oldest structures in town. What remains are several monumental columns, ruins of an altar, and some of the foundations. Seeing the ruins of the Roman Temple of Cordoba during the day is rewarding enough, but visitors might just return to the scene after the sun goes down. The site is illuminated in the evening, and the effect is quite stunning.

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