The breeze of an ancient world brushes my cheeks as I look out to the vibrant, topaz shoreline home to the ruins of Baelo Claudia – one of Spain’s best-preserved ancient cities from the Roman Empire. Located on the southern coast of Andalucía in a small town called Bolonia, this important archaeological site was once a thriving economic center thanks to its prime location near a tuna migration pattern and proximity to present-day Morocco, the coast of which can be seen from the shoreline. It reached its peak of prosperity under Emperor Augustus and Claudius in the 2nd century BC through the 1st century AD.
Here, the remnants of the once-flourishing town give us insight into what life was like for those who lived on the outskirts of the empire. The city was composed of administrative buildings, a broad market, 4 religious temples, a theater, a bathhouse, many homes, and a fish factory. The fish factory was the city’s main economic driver, where they exported tuna and made garum, a fermented fish sauce used as a condiment during this period.
For me, the most exciting aspect of seeing Baelo Claudia was being able to walk among the weathered ruins. Even though the buildings have aged over 2,000 years, one can easily see how the infrastructure patterns composed a town bustling with life. I could almost hear the shouts of fishermen pulling in their daily catch and the wheels of wagons plodding along the stone roads.
More information about the city can be found in the archeological museum adjoined to the site. Here, one can discover details about what life was like back then through the many trinkets and tools unearthed by archeologists, including structures as large as statues and as small as decorative hair pins.
This self-guided tour can take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, depending on your pace. Soaking up all of this knowledge made me hungry, and luckily there is a delicious beachside restaurant next to the site called Restaurante Otero. When I went with my family, everyone loved what they ordered, but I particularly loved the Bluefin Tuna. Eating seafood on the beach was a perfect way to end a day filled with history and culture.
If you find yourself with a car in Andalucía, particularly in Cadiz or Malaga, I think this visit is worth an hour to two-hour drive, especially if you are interested in ancient Roman history. My mind wanders to Italy when I think of the Roman Empire, but I often forget how vast, powerful, and advanced this empire once was. Seeing the lesser-known aspects of Roman life is enriching and helps me to humanize with the people who lived here 2,000 years ago.
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One thought on “Visiting the Ruins of Baelo Claudia in Southern Spain”
Great job ! Loved the details in the story line. Where did you find that Roman Soldier?