There is much to see in Mérida, both from Roman times and from later times. And here we are going to tell you what those places are.
The city was founded in 25 BC and is currently a World Heritage Site due to its Roman remains that have survived to this day.
In summer, the famous Mérida Classical Theater Festival is held at the Roman Theater. But the Roman monuments are not the only interesting ones in the city, as there are other places of interest that must be visited.
What to see in Merida in 1 day
With everything you can visit in Mérida in one day, you may prefer to take a guided tour of the city or one of its monuments. Or if you have more days, do a nearby excursion. Our recommendations are as follows:
1. The Roman Theater of Mérida
The Roman Theater is the best-known monument of Emérita Augusta, as the city was called in Roman times.
The Roman Theater, the main monument to see in Mérida, was inaugurated between the years 15 and 16 BC, although its current appearance was given by Emperor Trajan in the 2nd century.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the building fell into disuse and was buried until it was decided to recover and restore it at the end of the 19th century.
Its main parts are the grandstand, which in its day could hold up to 6,000 people, the orchestra and the 63-meter-long stage with a two-story façade with Corinthian columns.
As a curiosity, it should be noted that it was built in such a way that right now it is not necessary to use a microphone to speak because it has enviable acoustics.
We recommend you take this guided tour of the Roman Theater and Amphitheater in Mérida so you don’t miss anything, since if you do the visit on your own you run the risk of missing many details.
2. The Amphitheater of Merida
Next to the Theater is another of Emérita Augusta’s jewels, the Amphitheater. With this you will know the best things to visit in Mérida.
There the town could enjoy from the year 8 a. C. of the popular gladiator fights, among themselves and also against different beasts.
The Mérida Amphitheater had an elliptical shape, 126 meters long and 102 meters wide, with a stand that could hold up to 15,000 people.
In its center there was an area covered with sand and wood where the beasts were kept for the shows.
Visiting both monuments is a must on a visit to Mérida and going through its stands, passageways and enjoying the gardens that surround them is something you will never forget.
3. The National Museum of Roman Art
Next to the entrance to the enclosure where the Theater and the Amphitheater are located is the National Museum of Roman Art.
It is a brick building designed by Rafael Moneo that houses an extensive collection of objects, sculptures and mosaics by Emérita Augusta.
It was inaugurated in 1986 and its visit is essential if you go to Mérida.
Visiting the National Museum of Roman Art is essential to learn about the history of the city and to put in context all the spectacular places to see in Mérida.
4. Other Roman monuments to see in Mérida
Although the Theater and the Amphitheater are the best-known monuments in Mérida, there are also numerous remains from Roman times, some better preserved than others, but worth visiting.
Among them is the Roman Circus, which with 400 meters in length and capacity for 30,000 people was where chariot and chariot races were held.
Also noteworthy is the Temple of Diana, located in the city’s forum, which has now disappeared, and consists of Corinthian columns with a rectangular floor plan, or the Arch of Trajan, made of granite and marble, is almost 14 meters high, and served as the entrance to the forum.
Other Roman monuments to visit in Mérida are the Roman Bridge, built to cross the Guadiana River, it is the longest in antiquity with 755 meters in length and 60 arches, or the Aqueduct of Los Milagros, from the 1st century and so called because it was considered a miracle that it was still standing, serving to bring water to the city from the nearby Proserpina Reservoir.
5. Mérida after the Roman Empire
Although the monuments of Roman origin are the predominant ones in Mérida, in the city there are also other constructions from the Visigoth period to the present day.
One of these monuments is the Arab Alcazaba, located next to the Roman Bridge and built in the year 835. It was the first Arab Alcazaba in Spain and stands out for its cistern.
Also of note is the Basilica of Santa Eulalia, from the 4th century and the cradle of Christianity in Extremadura. Built in the 13th century, the Co-Cathedral of Santa María la Mayor should also be highlighted.
It is also possible to see different churches, palaces and convents that if their Roman monuments did not exist in Mérida, they would surely also be known throughout the world.
A walk through the most commercial streets of the city is also a must to see the atmosphere of the capital of Extremadura.
You can find more information about what to see in Mérida on its official tourism page.