Return to Roman Spain


"From this time, which was a little before the 144th Olympiad [205 BC], the Romans began to send praetors to Spain yearly to the conquered nations as governors or superintendents to keep the peace. But he [Scipio Africanus] left them a small force suitable for a peace establishment, and settled his sick and wounded soldiers in a town which he named Italica after Italy, and this is the native place of Trajan and Hadrian who afterwards became emperors of Rome."

Appian, Iberica (VI.38)

The birthplace of Trajan and probably Hadrian (although the Historia Augusta indicates that he was born in Rome), Itálica is the oldest Roman settlement in Spain, founded after the defeat of the Carthaginians at the Battle of Ilipa in 206 BC. Hadrian, whose family had come from Itálica, enlarged the city, including its impressive amphitheater, and elevated its status to that of colonia. The amphitheater, which is one of the largest in the Roman empire and could seat 20,000 spectators, still preserves the subterranean area where caged animals were kept before being released into the arena.

Artifacts from Itálica now are to be found in the Museo Arqueológico in Seville, which does not permit photographs.