founded in 206 b.c. about 9 km from the present-day sevilla, italica is the remarkably well-preserved ruin of a roman city that had about 8,000 residents. most of what you’ll see was was laid out under the patronage of hadrian a couple of centuries later. it takes about 30 minutes on a bus from the station in sevilla to the end of the santiponce line. it was a drizzly day mid-week and we were the only ones there.
the amphitheater seated 25,ooo and was the 3rd largest in the roman empire. the restoration is really successful — enough for you to understand what was there — without disney-fying it.
standing in the arena or walking though the passages beneath the structure, it’s pretty easy to imagine what it was like with gladiators there…
a beautiful stone drain:
there are amazingly intact mosaic floors at the site.
the river shifted sometime in the 3rd century (probably silting up due to deforestation), leaving the city cut-off and abandoned. the town of santiponce was built on the oldest – pre-roman part of italica, but most of it remained uncovered by later buildings. excavations began in 1781 and continues. the entire site will never be uncovered.