The rest of our stay in Mérida was mostly seeing more of the many historic sites: the Alcazaba, the remains of a Roman villa, a creepy crypt under a church, the Roman Circus and a Roman aqueduct. The Alcazaba is located near the Roman Bridge and was built in 835 to command the city, which had rebelled in 805. It was actually the first Muslim alcazaba to be built in Spain which is pretty cool. They re-used Roman walls and Roman-Visigothic edifices in granite. Inside was my favourite feature, the aljibe (rainwater tank), which can be accessed by walking down a very steep and dark stairway. Nowadays it is basically just a fish pond, but you don’t expect to find it when you climb down to investigate.
As the sites are all open until 9pm, we made the most of our evening by walking over to La Casa del Mitreo, the remains of a Roman Villa near the Bullring. It is included in the tickets for all the sites in Mérida and is worth the walk. It didn’t seem to be very busy because it was further away than the rest of the sites, but don’t let this factor put you off visiting.
There were some beautiful painted walls and mosaics that have been excavated and preserved, it was really impressive to look at the detail and colours.
The following day, we made our way to the Acueducto de los Milagros, where there is a nice park to sit in the sun. It is no way near a well preserved as the Aqueduct in Segovia (which is in perfect condition) – this one is falling apart and crumbing with many a stork’s nest perched on top, and it’s a shame not much is being done to preserve it:
We then made our way to visit the Crypt under the Basilica de Santa Eulalia. The crypt itself is really spooky and I would hate to be down there on my own, although all the bodies has been removed! Although there was an abundance of information of the history of the building and how it was used – dating back to a Roman villa, then being used by the Moors and finally turning into a church – it was all very confusing and it isn’t a “highlight” in Mérida.
We also visited the Roman Circus which is still very well-preserved. There isn’t much to see though but it was nice just to have a walk around in the sun.
Soon it was time to catch our night coach back to Salamanca that evening!
Mérida is indeed a small town, but there are plenty of things to see and do which make it worthwhile for a weekend trip. My favourites by far were the Amphitheater and the food though!
I’d love to go back in the summer for the Classical Theater Festival which is held every year in the Roman Amphitheater (!!!) and maybe in the future I can visit some more of Extremadura (e.g. Cáceres, Trujillo). It’s not the most popular region of Spain for travellers, and is still quite “unknown” but its a relief to go somewhere which is not swarming with tourists for a change.
Last weekend I headed even further south to Sevilla and Granada which was am-az-ing! Although it was a lot of coach travel. It is fair to say I have had enough of uncomfortable night coaches for a long while and I need some sleep.
I am both sad yet relieved that this was my FINAL Year Abroad trip during my time in Spain. The last one!!! Sad because of obvious reasons, yet relieved because travel is so exhausting. Salamanca is far from everything which is inconvenient and it is about time I actually get cracking with all those coursework deadlines and exams coming up in the next month! It gives me the opportunity to make the most out of what I have around me in Salamanca, as there is still so much I haven’t done here.
There is a possibility of a trip to Madrid on the way to the airport to fly back to the UK in June. It would be a bit strange not to, because, well, it is the closest “big” city to Salamanca/the capital of Spain/I have never visited, and somehow I have avoided it until now. But let’s wait and see.