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DISCOVER History of the ROMAN RUINS on BOLONIA Beach

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There is a town south of spain which is called Bologna. Here, on its beach, on the coast of the Strait of Gibraltar, is a collection of Roman ruins known as the Claudia Baelo. They are around 2 thousand years old and a great treasure.

Today, in Travvel Guide, the history of Roman ruins on Bolonia beach.

Bologna, Spain

When you hear Bologna you automatically think of Italy but no, in this case it’s a coastal village in the municipality of Tarifa, province of Cadiz, southern Spain. It is on the coast of the Atlantic Sea, a few 23 kilometers more or less by road from Tarifa a city which in turn rests on the famous Coast of the Luz which, through the Strait of Gibraltar, faces Morocco.

bologna is in a bay and the Roman ruins that call us today are near the beach. are considered the most complete ruins of a Roman city to date discovered in Spain. Bright!

Bolonia beach is about 4 kilometers long and has an average width of 70 meters. Very few people live here, its population does not reach 120 people.

The position of this place is privileged and offers a magnificent view: the white sand of Bolonia beach goes from Punta Camarinal to Punta Paloma, and you can see the hills of San Bartolome to the east and the mountains of Higuera and Plata to the west. Thus, a sheltered cove is created which was once perfect for mooring sailboats.

Bolonia Beach Roman Ruins

But what about these ruins? They tell us that at one time more people lived here than today, that’s for sure. What is certain is that Baelo Claudia was an ancient Roman city in Hispania. It was originally a fishing village and a commercial bridge and knew how to be very prosperous during the time of Emperor Claudius, although due to the constant earthquakes it ended up being abandoned around the 6th century.

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Claudia Baelo was founded at the end of the 2nd century BC. promote trade with North Africa through tuna fishing, the salt trade and the production of garum (a fermented fish sauce widely used in ancient cooking), although it is also believed to have had a governmental administrative function as well.

It was at the time of Claudio that the title of municipality was conquered and its richness can be read in the quantity and quality of its buildings. Archaeologists believe that its maximum splendor was reached between the 1st and 2nd centuries BC. J.-C., but that In the middle of the 2nd century, a great earthquake took place which collapsed a good part of the buildings, marking the beginning of its end..

This natural tragedy was followed pirate attacks in the following century, both Germanic and Barbarian, so between ups and downs its end came during the 6th century.

Archaeological site of Baelo Claudia

The discoverer of the ruins was Jorge Bonsor. Excavations have brought to light the most complete Roman ruins in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula and today the temple of Isis, a theatre, a basilica, the market…

The urban layout of these ruins is magnificent and follow the common Roman map with two routesthe maximus thistle which crosses it at right angles then in the north-south direction and decumanus maximus which goes from east to west and ends at the entrance of the city.

At the point of intersection of these two roads was the forum or main square, paved with original stone from Tarifa, still visible and well preserved. The forum was built in the time of Augustus, but the whole city grew exponentially under the rule of Claudius during the time of the Republic.

Around it were the buildings of public administration. There was also an open plaza with porticoes on three of its sides which accessed the emperor’s temple, the curia and a meeting hall.

In the back there is another important building, the Basilica, that it had several functions although the most important was that of the seat of the court of justice. On the left side there are many buildings built of stone, among which are Many shops a tavern, for example.

The archaeological site today retains what is most representative of a Roman city, namely the stone walls reinforced with about forty watchtowersthe entrance doors of the city, administrative buildings such as the municipal archives or the senate, forum, courts which were presided over by a statue of the Emperor Trajan more than three meters high, four temples, three of which are dedicated to Minerva, Juno and Jupiter, the other to Isis; the enormous theater with a capacity of two thousand people and the remains of a market with a special sector for the sale of meat and food with 14 small shops and an interior patio, hot springs and other businesses.

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There is no Roman city without an aqueduct, so here in Baelo Claudia there are four. There were four aqueducts that supplied the city with water and were vital to the functioning of the local industry of garum, for example, but also for everyday life in the city. It also included a drainage and sewage system. It was truly a Roman city with all the letters and for this reason it is a real archaeological treasure.

It is one of the archaeological pearls of Andalusia also counting Italica on the outskirts of Seville and Acinipo on the outskirts of Ronda. The ruins have been not only preserved but restored allowed by the great state of conservation of the same.

Today there is a visitor center which is a real portal to the city. It is a concrete building which at the time was quite rejected by the local population but which is quite well lost in the general landscape of the dunes. There’s a central atrium, painted white and with a glass balcony that overlooks the beautiful coastline.

Visiting the center is a good preface to visiting the ruins since there is a model of the city at its best and audio guide very good.

Additionally, there are some treasures on display such as a marble statue believed to be of a goddess that was found in Porte de la Carteia, one of the main entrances to the city, a lead from the 1st century, a restored column from the basilica and the remains of a marble statue found in the marine baths which depicts the naked figure of a male athlete and is known as Doryforus of Baelo Claudia.

The ruins are accessible from the center so there is a suggested route, although of course you can do the route you like the most. Next to what remains of the eastern gateway there is a small stretch of aqueduct which, in its original size, was just over three miles long and carried water to the baths at the west. It is believed that these baths were both sporting and recreational and, as usual, had one huge, luxurious bath and another smaller, more private one.

Among the other social spaces were the forum square, in which 12 columns around it are still preserved, the basilica and as we said before the theater which is one of the best preserved and restored spaces. It sits on a natural hill and the entire seating area has been restored. even used today as a modern scene in summer productions of classical Spanish theatre.

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Then, at the southeast end of the site, there is a maritime center that it is very important to visit to finish understanding the city and its history. It is Industrial Zone from where they were salt baths, where he cleaned the tuna and salted it to preserve it. It was industry that made Baelo Claudia wealthy and you can even see the restored nets the Romans used in those days to catch fish the size of fish.

A last curious fact? In 2021, Baelo Claudia was the scene of the filming of the Netflix series, The crown. It briefly became Egypt when the series showed Lady Di’s visit to Egypt in 1992.

Practical information from Baelo Claudia:

  • Opening time: from January 1 to March 31 and from September 16 to December 31, it is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays and public holidays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. From April 1 to June 30, it opens Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays and public holidays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. From July 1 to September 15, it is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sundays and public holidays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
  • Public holidays in Tarifa are July 16 and September 8, and on these days the site is open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • In summer, you can attend shows in the amphitheater.
  • There are guided tours with price arrangement.
  • Free entry for EU citizens with passport or ID. Otherwise, it costs 1.50 euros.
  • How to arrive: From Tarifa on the N-340 road until kilometer 70.2. Turn onto CA-8202 and continue on a local road that reaches the village of Ensenada Bolonia. Go straight instead of turning left towards the beach and in 500 meters you will see the visitor center and free parking on the left side.
  • Location: Calanque of Bologna s/n. Rate, Cadiz. Spain.

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