Tag Archives: Roman Amphitheatre

Twelve Treasures of Spain – Roman Theatre at Mérida

Roman Theatre Merida

The “Twelve Treasures of the Kingdom of Spain” was a contest/poll that was conducted by the Spanish Television Company Antena 3 and the radio broadcaster Cope. The final results were announced on 31st December 2007.  I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the eight out of the twelve that I have visited.  Eighth in the competition was the Roman Theatre at Mérida in Extremadura.

Extremadura is considered to be the traditional boundary between Moorish and Christian Spain and Mérida itself has previously passed between Christian, Moorish, and even Portuguese control.  Because of its rich and varied history it was declared a UNESCO World heritage site in 1993.

On our visit to the city we walked first along a busy main road towards the crimson and saffron coloured Plaza de Torres where tattered bull fight advertising posters were peeling from the pot-marked walls and near here was our first excavation to visit.  We bought an all sites pass for €12 each which seemed like a good deal and went inside to see the remains of a house that had been the home and office of an important Roman citizen in the first century A.D. and after that we visited an adjacent ancient Roman burial site and cemetery.

It was getting hot as we made our way to one of the main attractions, the amphitheatre and theatre and as we walked we were aware of hundreds of school children arriving in buses, far too many for this to be a normal school trip occasion and we wondered what they were all doing here.  We found the entrance to the site and all was revealed because today, and all week, there was a production of the Greco-Latin Youth Festival Theatre which meant that the theatre was in use and access was restricted.  I was annoyed about that and wondered just how restricted?

Merida Spain Roman Theatre

We went first to the amphitheatre which was completed in 8 B.C. and was able to seat up to fifteen thousand spectators within the elliptical stadium.  The previous month we had visited the amphitheatre at Pula which accommodated twenty-thousand spectators but this seemed just as huge.  It wasn’t in such good shape however because a lot of it has been subsequently dismantled for alternative building projects, some of it as far away as Cordoba in the east.

Mérida was the capital city of the most westerly Roman Province of Lusitania so this was an important place and the amphitheatre here would have been on the main gladiatorial and events circuit of the Empire and it continued to be used for this purpose until the fourth century.  Today, on account of its past, Mérida is a sister city of Rome.

The site was beginning to fill up now with chattering school children and the volume levels inside the Roman Theatre (Teatro Romano) were beginning to build so we left the amphitheatre and walked the short distance to the theatre next door.  Two thousand years ago this would have been a massive entertainment centre for the city and today we were going to see it being used once more for its original purpose.

Although we couldn’t get down close to the stage area and the columns and the statues and the central seating area was full of excitable school children we could make our way around the upper circle and visitors were invited to stay awhile and watch the production.  We sat and watched for about half an hour but it was a three hour show and struggling with interpretation we finally left and moved on.

Merida Roman Theatre

And next I have to move on straight to number ten in the competition and leave out number nine because I have never visited the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia and to be honest – probably never will!


Review of the Year 2012

Writing Paper and Pen

Please excuse me a self-indulgent blog to begin the new year.  The top ten most hit blog pages in 2012 on my Travel Blog have mostly surprised me but then I don’t understand how search engines work.  I say hit blog pages rather than read because I am neither conceited enough of sufficiently naive to claim that a hit equals a read.

In 2011 the blog recorded 151,493 hits and the upward trend continued until May when there were 17,845 in one month and I was optimistic that this number was just going to keep going up but then it stopped and fell back and has never recovered.  I have finished the year with 170,900 hits which is an increase of 13%.

A reason for this may be that I have been removing old posts and archiving them in a separate blog called ‘Another Bag, More Travel’.  The main blog was running out of space so being a skinflint and not wanting to pay for extra space this was my cunning solution.  This blog has recorded 43,600 hits so if I add them together then the annual increase on my travel blog pages is increased to 43% which is much more respectable.

This however is nowhere near as good as performance on my memories blog ‘New Light through Old Windows’ which has increased by 84% from 100,671 views in 2011 to 185,700 in 2012.

These are the Top Ten blogs of 2012:

No. 1 (for the second year running)

Norway, Haugesund and the Vikings.  

Minnesota Vikings

I travelled to Haugesund in January 2011 and visited a Viking monument and blogged about it.  This post has had 14,755 hits which is over 10,000 more than the post in second place.  Over 9,000 hits have been recorded from the single word ‘Vikings’ in various search engines!  I have concluded that this is because there are a lot of people using the search engines to find content about the Minnesota Vikings American Football Team and they are probably disappointed when they come across my page about a wintery day spent next to the North Sea in Norway. Without any shame I have exploited this opportunity by adding a paragraph about the Minnesota Vikings.

No. 2

Onyx UK and an Inappropriate Visit to the Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge Naked Dancers

Straight in at no. 2 with 4,416 hits.  I have written a few times about my recollections of working in waste management in the private sector in the 1990s.  All of the posts manage a respectable number of hits but this one gets the most.  I don’t suppose for one minute that people are interested in my stories of mismanagement, incompetence and rubbish collection but they do like to read about dancing on a nightclub stage in Paris.

No. 3

Krakow, Wieliczka Salt Mine

Dropping a place from last year at No 2 with 4,342 hits. I posted this in April 2010 after returning from a visit to Krakow in Poland.  It was a good trip but I am not sure why so many people would hit on it.  It is not as interesting as my trip to Auschwitz or the Crazy Mike Communist Tour.

No. 4

Norway, Europe’s most Expensive Country

Haugesund Norway

3,975 hits and up from eighth to fourth place  This was a second blog about my trip to Haugesund in January 2011. It contains some interesting facts and figures which might explain the number of hits that it has received but I am not really convinced that this is the reason unless top European economists are using it for research purposes!

No. 5

Mount Vesuvius

3,326 hits and a second year in the Top Ten and up two places.  A bit of a surprise because this is the account of a day trip to Mount Vesuvius whilst on a holiday to Sorrento in 1976 with my dad.  From my memories of the same holiday I posted several blogs about visits to CapriNaplesPompeiiThe Amalfi Drive and Rome but these have only achieved a handful of hits between them.

No. 6

Pula, Croatia

Pula Amphitheatre Croatia

2,916 hits – twice as many as 2011.  A bit of a mystery to me how this one gets so many visits.  I have blogged two or three times about Roman Amphitheatres – RomeArlesMeridaSegobriga and about larger Croatian cities at Dubrovnik and Split but this one gets the hits and I don’t know why?  The Pula is the national currency of Botswana so perhaps they are intended as exchange rate enquiries?

No. 7

Royal Garden Party

Palace Invite 3

2,625 hits and staying in the Top Ten despite dropping 3 places from last year at no. 4.  This one has always been popular especially around the Spring and Summer when invitations to the Royal Garden Party are going out and when people are wondering how to get one or what to wear if they have one.

No. 8

Travel Tips when Flying Budget Airlines

1,800 hits and new this year.  I first wrote on this subject in 2009 and it immediately started getting hundreds of hits and then in 2011 it just stopped completely.  I reviewed and reposted it and changed the title from the specific ‘Travel Tips when Flying Ryanair’ to the more general title that it has now and hey presto the hits started coming again.

No. 9

Onyx UK and the Dog Poo Solution

The third new entry in the Top Ten this year with 1,7066 hits and the second post about life in the Waste Management industry.  Some people have accused me of writing crap but others clearly like to read about it!

No. 10

Andrew – The About Page

The final new entry this year with 1,358 hits and which demonstrates the importance of an About page.

If you have read one of these posts or any of the 921 others on my site ‘Have Bag, Will Travel’then Thank you very much!  I guess it proves that George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life) was right when he said:“The three most exciting sounds in the world are anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles.”  

Dropping out of the Top Ten this year were: The Colossus of Rhodes, Cofete Beach, Spartacus the Gladiator and Love Locks on the Ponte Vecchio

Verona, The Amphitheatre

Verona Italy Amphitheatre

“There is no world without Verona walls                                                                           But purgatory, torture, hell itself                                                                                     Hence banished is banish’d from the world                                                                      And world’s exile is death”                                                                                      Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet

The good thing about travelling to this region of Italy and not staying within the confines of the Venetian Lagoon is that there was the opportunity to go beyond the watery city and see so much more and today our plan was to travel west and visit the ancient and famous city of Verona.

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A Life in Ruins – France, Arles

Arles France Amphitheatre

We had chosen to visit Arles for two main reasons, its Roman heritage and the painter Vincent Van Gogh.  The city has a long history, and was of considerable prominence as a principal Roman Province and the Roman and Romanesque Monuments of the city were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981. The Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles in from 1888 to 1889 and produced over three hundred paintings and drawings during his time there – that’s a lot of paintings in only a short time.

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A Life in Ruins – Roman Amphitheatre at Pula, Croatia

Pula Croatia

The flights to Pula were an irresistible bargain at only £16 return, which effectively meant that they were being subsidised by Ryanair because we didn’t even have to pay the full Government flight taxes.  Sitting next to us was a couple from Kenilworth who had an impressive capacity for drinks from the sky-bar.  They loaded up with beers and whiskey on its first pass down the aisle and they restocked when it returned back the other way.  I like a gin and tonic to help pass the flight but I couldn’t possibly compete with these two heavyweight boozers.

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France, Arles – Romans and Post-Impressionists

Arles France Amphitheatre

We had chosen to visit Arles for two main reasons, its Roman heritage and the painter Vincent Van Gogh.  The city has a long history, and was of considerable prominence as a principal Roman Province and the Roman and Romanesque Monuments of the city were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981. The Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles in from 1888 to 1889 and produced over three hundred paintings and drawings during his time there – that’s a lot of paintings in only a short time.

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Italy 2011, Rome, The Roman Forum and Italian Unification

Rome The Forum

The tour began from outside the Colosseum and went first past the Arch of Constantine where Silvio explained that this was the only Roman monument that still had its marble reliefs intact because successive Christian regimes in Rome after the fall of the Empire were reluctant to destroy a monument commemorating the first Christian Emperor.  And then we made our way into the Forum and began to climb towards the top of the Palatine Hill stopping frequently to listen to and absorb more information from Silvio.

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