Baelo Claudia, the Roman ruins, close to Tarifa, southern Spain.

Baelo Claudia, the Roman ruins, close to Tarifa, southern Spain. #Roman #ruins #AncientHistory #baeloclaudia #Archaeology #Tarifa #Spain The ancient Roman city of Baelo Claudia, close to Tarifa in Andalucia, is one of the best surviving examples of an ancient Roman town in Spain.

Baelo Claudia, the Roman ruins, close to Tarifa, southern Spain
Baelo Claudia, the Roman ruins, close to Tarifa, southern Spain

Sitting right on the coast, Baelo Claudia is a fantastic place to visit with both stunning views and the amazing ancient ruins.  The remains of Baelo Claudia, near the modern town of Tarifa, have been restored and preserved because of the good general conservation of the ruins, their easy interpretation and the beauty of their surroundings.

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One of the province’s most outstanding attractions is the archaeological site of Baelo Claudia, a Roman town founded in the 2nd century BC near the Bolonia inlet.  This is the most complete Roman town on the Iberian peninsula and draws over 100,000 visitors every year.

The Roman town of Baelo Claudia in Spain is a well-preserved ancient city which sits on the Andalusian coast, providing a beautiful backdrop to these ancient remains.

Ancient Ruins:  A 2,000 year old Roman Fishing Village Perched on one of the best Beaches in Spain

The Baelo Claudia site was discovered by George Edward Bonsor Saint Martin, a French painter, archaeologist and historian, who was born in England and then settled in Spain.   With a well-known foundation dating from the end of the 2nd century BC, it was established as a commercial meeting point with the North African routes and as a gateway to the exchange of goods with the Iberian Peninsula.

Its importance as a commercial and administrative enclave would increase until its peak between the first century B.C. and the second century A.D. when it began to decline as a result of a tidal wave that devastated the city.

Baelo Claudia Roman Ruins

Another sunny day in the Costa del Sol, Spain, and history buffs that we are, we decided to visit the ancient Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia on the southwest coast. Approximately 1 1/2 hours from our temporary home base in Estepona, we took the scenic route past Gibraltar and Tarifa.

This ancient Roman town dates back over 2000 years and was once a prosperous fishing village on an important trade route. Turquoise waters, sand dunes, miles of white sand beaches and mountains in the background make for a stunning natural setting.

The town has been incredibly well preserved due to the hard work of archaeologists, and their foresight offers tantalizing glimpses into the distant past, showcasing a forum, an amphitheater, markets, villas, aqueducts and baths.

Earthquakes unfortunately impacted the town as did pirates (you can still see where the paving stones of the ancient roads were thrown into upheaval), and ultimately it was abandoned by the 6th century A.D.

These ruins don’t seem to be as well known as some of the more popular tourist sites in the south of Spain but with an entrance fee of only 1.50 Euros per person (free for Europeans) this historic site is most definitely worth a visit! We loved our time here!

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Baelo Claudia: The Most Comprehensive Roman Ruin on the Iberian Peninsula

The town was granted official municipium status by Emperor Claudius, a rare honor for foreign colonies during the Roman Empire. The archaeological area includes a partially restored Roman amphitheatre that once accommodated 2,000 people, temples built in honor of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva (a rare trio of temples only located in one other Roman town, in Tunisia), and a fourth temple devoted to Isis, the most powerful of the Egyptian gods.

There are also the remains of governmental buildings, a public square surrounded by shops and markets, and of course, Roman baths.

History of Baelo Claudia

Although founded in the 2nd century BC, Baelo Claudia grew into a small yet important Roman trading post in the 1st century BC and 1st century AD, particularly under the rules of Emperor Augustus and Claudius. Baelo Claudia expanded to include significant municipal areas, including a forum, theatre and market, known for its trade in the Roman fish-based sauce called garum.

In latter centuries, it is believed that Baelo Claudia suffered due to an earthquake and the onset of raiders and pirates in the area which hindered the trade of garum. The site was abandoned towards the end of the Western Roman Empire period, probably in the 6th century before the Arab invasion in 711 AD.

It was not until 1917 that Baelo Claudia was systematically excavated by French archaeologists, and many of the findings were sent to the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid. In the 1990s, a small museum was built to house recent findings and serve the increasing number of visitors to the area.


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