Regina Turdulorum

Regina Turdulorum is a former Roman city located in southern Extremadura, in the province of Badajoz, just outside Casas de Reina. Pliny (Plin. Nat. 3.14) mentions this town among the ‘oppida non ignobilia’ located in Baeturia Turdulorum, the region extending from the Guadiana and Guadalquivir rivers, which used to be occupied by the Turduli. The city was founded in the 1st century AD along the Roman road that ran from Augusta Emerita (now Mérida) to Corduba (now Córdoba).

Among the reasons for the city’s founding was the mineral wreath of the area and the control of the territory of the Turduli people. The region also had good land for cultivation and was rich in water.

In the beginning, Regina was an oppidum stipendiarium (tributary), which paid tribute to Rome, but under the Flavians, the city was promoted to the status of municipium and was ruled by Roman citizens. It reached the height of its splendour during this time, with the construction of various public buildings. Despite being founded in times of prosperity, archaeological research studies show that Regina was a significant walled city flanked by defensive towers. Within the walls, streets crossing at right angles and flanked by porticoes delimited the blocks or insulae of the monumental centre of the town, with the cardo and the decumanus crossing the forum.

The city’s buildings included houses, several religious temples and civic buildings, an extensive sewage system and at least two necropoleis. The first archaeological exactions took place in the 1970s when the remains of the small theatre were unearthed. The theatre, built in the age of the Flavian emperors, is relatively small (diameter 55 m, wall of the scaena 38 m long) and could accommodate an audience of about 1000 people. Today it is one of the four venues in Extremadura hosting plays during Mérida’s Classic Theatre Festival, which takes place in summer. In 2008, a marble Head of Trajan was discovered inside a well located in the forum (see image here).

Coordinates: 38°12’11.1″N 5°57’13.0″W


The theatre was built in the second half of the 1st century AD into the slope of a hill in the northwest sector of the town.
The scaenae frons was flanked on either side by the proscaenium and the basilica. On the left is the aditus, an arched entrance corridor leading to the Orchestra.
The cavea originally had ten rows of seats, of which the first three, part of the fourth and some of the fifth tier in the central area are preserved. The Orchestra had an almost semicircular diameter (16,40 m).
The theatre.
The ruins of the Macellum, the city’s great commercial centre, covered over 3,000 square meters. To date, only 50% of the building has been excavated.
The ruins of the so-called Building C located in the forum area. It had a small courtyard and could be accessed from the decumanus maximus via a portico. This building was built in the first half of the 1st century AD.
The Temple dedicated to Pietas Augusta was built at the end of the 1st century AD and is located next to the decumanus maximus. An inscription mentioning this temple’s repairs and the emperor Titus gives suggests that this building was dedicated to the imperial cult.

The main part of the Templum Pietatis was the sacred room surrounded by a colonnaded portico.
The Decumanus Maximus.
The foundations of the Capitolium, the three temples dedicated to the Capitoline triad (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva).

The three temples were erected on a podium with a staircase leading to the pronaos, originally surrounded by six marble columns. The statue of the deity would be placed inside the cella.
The foundations of the capitolium.
The foundations of the religious building occupied a prominent place in the sacred area of ​​the city.

The so-called Religious Building had a square floor plan (45×45), a central courtyard and porticoed galleries. The main area of the building was occupied by three rooms open to a courtyard. The central room was the largest where religious meetings and ceremonies were taking place.


Alcántara Bridge

The Roman bridge at Alcántara in Extremadura, Spain, is one of the finest examples of Roman bridge-building and a monumental feat of engineering. It was built over the Tagus River in the ancient Roman province of Lusitania between 104 and 106 AD. It was dedicated to the Roman emperor Trajan on behalf of the local indigenous populations. Built of granite and without mortar, the Alcántara Bridge consists of six semicircular arches supported by five pillars. It spans the river at almost 200 m and rises more than 40 m meters above the water level. The architect of this great masterpiece was a man called Caius Julius Lacer.

The name of the bridge comes from the Arabic “El Kantara”, meaning “bridge”. Its dimensions make it unique among Roman bridges, and it boasts the largest arch span of the peninsular Roman bridges, with an arch of almost 29 m. At its ends, the arches are supported by buttresses.

An honorific arch at the centre of the bridge was dedicated to the emperor Trajan. The inscription found on the attic reads (CIL II 759): Imp(eratori) • Caesari • divi • Nervae • f(ilio) • Nervae / Traiano • Aug(usto) • Germ(anico) • Dacico • pontif(ici) max(imo) / trib(unicia) • potes(tate) • VIII • imp(eratori) • V • co(n)s(uli) • V • p(atri) • p(atriae).

Another inscription from the side of the triumphal arch reveals that the bridge was paid for by eleven Lusitanian municipalities (municipia provinciae Lusitaniae). The inscription also claims that, in addition to contributing funds to the building of the bridge, these local municipalities ‘completed’ the bridge (perfecerunt).

At the southeast end of the monumental bridge are the remains of a small votive temple, distyle in antis, of Tuscan order with a single cella. It was constructed as an offering to Trajan and the gods of Rome. It was designed by the same architect as the bridge and the triumphal arch, Gaius Julius Lacer. The dedicatory inscription (CIL II 761) on the temple (now a reconstruction of the original), cut in a slab of marble, records that the temple was dedicated to Trajan, erected by the bridge’s architect Gaius Iulius Lacer, with the help of his associate and friend Curio Lacone Igaeditano (from the city of Idanha-a-Velha). After the conquest of Cáceres in 1169 by Ferdinand II of Leon, the temple was converted into a chapel of St. Julian, which explains why the building remains so well-preserved. The architect was buried in the temple, and his tomb is still preserved inside.

pontem perpetui mansurum in saecula mundi (a bridge that would last forever)

Over the centuries, the Alcántara Bridge sustained damage in various armed conflicts and environmental events, mainly water-related, which have led to the destruction of part of its structure and degraded it. The bridge was restored during the reign of Isabel II by the engineer Alejandro Millan y Sociats in 1859. It was listed as a Spanish National Monument in 1924 and is in the process of being declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Coordinates: 39° 43′ 21.00″ N 6° 53′ 33.00″ W


View of the Alcántara Bridge looking northwest.
View of the Alcántara Bridge looking northeast.

The honorific arch at the centre of the bridge is dedicated to the emperor Trajan.
View of the Alcántara Bridge looking southeast.
The small votive temple was dedicated to the Roman emperor Trajan and the Roman Gods.
Dedicatory inscription (CIL II 761) on the votive temple honouring Trajan and the Gods for successfully building the bridge.
The entrance is flanked by two Tuscan columns and accessed by an exterior staircase, covered with a gabled roof made of slabs of stone, with a pediment with trim at the edges and a smooth tympanum without decoration.
The interior of the small votive temple.
The Alcántara bridge and the small temple view from the east.
The Alcántara bridge is still used for traffic.