Merida, Spain

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Merida, capital of Extremadura, was once the capital of the Roman province of Lusitania and is notable for having the most impressive and extensive Roman ruins in all of Spain.
The city of Merida - once Augusta Emerita, capital of the Roman province of Lusitania - has more Roman ruins than anywhere else in Spain. It has sometimes been called an open air museum.

There are traces of Rome scattered throughout the city that can be seen by more casual passersby. The Roman bridge across the river, for example; the aqueducts; the Roman circus, or race track, which now looks like an empty soccer field; and sections of the Roman road that can be glimpsed from today's sidewalks.

However, it's the big ones that really stun the visitor here, with the amphitheater and theater still in good condition. Both were planned at similar times (in the first century BC), with the amphitheater built a little later.

The Roman Theater began to be excavated in 1910 and, after restoration, is used every summer for the Classical Theater Festival. The two story columns above the stage, the stage itself and many of the theater buildings remain in great shape.

The elliptical amphitheater was used for gladiatorial combat, animal-to-animal and human fighting, and circus performances - entertainment that was extremely popular with the public. About 14,000 people could be accommodated, with everyone seated according to their rating, most importantly in private boxes next to the stage.

Outside the center slightly, along a busy main road and next to the bullring built in 1915, is the Mithreo House. This is the ruin of a noble family home based on three courtyards. The ruin contains a room where some painted walls are still standing, and others with well-maintained mosaic floors (including one from Eros). The most impressive mosaic is the Cosmological Mosaic, where elements - such as sea and air - are arranged on a blue background.

This is not all there is to see in Merida, and there is much more to eat, with much of Merida still being excavated.
It shares many dishes with the rest of the region, such as the lamb boiler (lamb stew, onion, garlic and peppers) and Iberian pork products, especially sausages and ham. Other typical dishes include gazpacho (a cold soup made with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, garlic, etc.), ajoblanco (another can soup, similar to but white gazpacho, made with garlic, almonds and bread), rabbit and partridge.

Any of the bars and restaurants in Mérida serves these and many other delicacies, some of them appetizers such as pork ears, wild asparagus and cheese.
Merida has a continental Mediterranean climate with Atlantic influence. It is characterized by its high summer temperatures, with maximums sometimes exceeding 40º, and minimums rarely reaching 0º.
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