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Capital, Library of Hadrian - History
Jesus Never Existed &ndash The Chosen People
Discuss the world's favourite imaginary friend on the JNE YouTube channel
Aerial view of the extensive remains of Caesarea. The city and its sunken harbour have been excavated since the late 1950s.
The works of Marcus Vitruvius, the leading Roman architect of the Augustan age, provided the guidelines for building the massive breakwaters of Caesarea. Enclosed within them was a forty-acre harbour able to accommodate about 300 ships.
Herod gets the credit for the past glory &ndash but it was actually the city of Hadrian that endured.
Legio X Fretensis was based at Caesarea in the 20s BC., later moving to Syria and returning to the city after 6 AD and the deposition of Archelaus.
The Roman Prefect and a force of up to three thousand soldiers were stationed in Caesarea. In the brief restoration of the kingdom under Herod Agrippa I (41-44), the Jewish king made extended visits to the city &ndash and died there.
Acts of the Apostles made use of the death, transforming the ill-omen of an owl found in Josephus into an avenging angel of the Lord!
In a typical display of Roman pizzazz, the theatre of Caesarea was renovated in the 2nd century so that it could stage water spectacles.
The semi-circular floor of the orchestra, originally paved in painted plaster, was re-paved with marble.
With seating for 4,000 spectators, the theatre introduced Jews to the delights of Hellenistic drama.
Hadrian at Caesarea
A headless Emperor Hadrian in porphyry from Caesarea.
Porphyry was obtained at great difficulty and expense from Egypt&rsquos eastern desert. The quarry, near Mons Porphyrites, was a personal possession of the emperor.
The hard purple stone was symbolic of imperial authority and was used restrictively.
Hadrian in the New Testament?
" Let not any one deceive you in any manner, because if . the man of sin be revealed, the son of the destruction, who is opposing and is raising himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he, as God, sits in the sanctuary of God, showing himself off that he is God. "
&ndash 2 Thessalonians 2.3,4.
Now who could be this destructive usurper of Yahweh's throne?
As 4th century churchman Jerome tells us, a statue of Hadrian, seated on horseback, was erected on the levelled platform of Jerusalem's Temple Mount after the defeat of Jewish rebels in 135 AD.
" So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation: or to the statue of the mounted Hadrian, which stands to this very day on the site of the Holy of Holies. "
&ndash Jerome, Commentaries on Isaiah 2.8 and Matthew 24.15.
Seeing double at Caesarea
Emperor Hadrian upgrades Herod's aqueduct
Hadrian's improvement on the work of Herod can be seen at the Jewish king's greatest triumph, the port city of Caesarea.
Left channel, the aqueduct of Herod. Right channel, the aqueduct of Hadrian.
The style and materials of the two channels are identical. Fortunately, the legionaries who built the later channel also attached the emperor's name &ndash or it would all be claimed for Herod!
Wall plaque: "IMP CAES(ar) TRIAN(us) HADR(ianus)".
Seeing double at Caesarea
Herod's theatre remade as Amphitheatre by Hadrian
Caesarea's first "amphitheatre" was originally built by Herod as a hippodrome (race-track) for horse and chariot racing and seated 8,000 spectators (Josephus, Antiquities, 15.9.6)
It was rebuilt as an elongated Roman amphitheatre in the 2nd century. The renovated stadium seated 15,000.
Its decor included a fresco (recently restored) over 100 metres long.
Herod's trademark city of Caesarea actually owes more to Hadrian than it does to the Jewish king. Within seven years of the city's inaugural games Herod was dead and a decade later his kingdom was itself in pieces, the greater part reorganized as a minor Roman province governed from the harbour city.
The destruction of Jerusalem in the first Jewish war emphasized the importance of Caesarea as the economic and political hub of province Palaestina, and that predominance was elevated further after the Bar Kochba war, waged during the later years of Hadrian (132-136). Though in the popular mind overshadowed by the Herodian foundation, in fact both the city and the harbour of Caesarea were extensively rebuilt by the Roman emperor. The Hadrianic city extended far beyond the Herodian centre and had no defining city wall for more than 300 years.
At its height the city covered an urban area of nearly a thousand acres &ndash almost five-times the size of Jerusalem.
Visualization of the harbour of Caesarea in its heyday.
Before Herod's day the coasts of Palestine had for centuries been a possession of Phoenicia, interrupted only briefly by an episode of Maccabean control. Traders from the Phoenician city of Sidon, shipping timber to Egypt, established an anchorage half way between Acco (Ptolemais/ Acre) and Joppa (Jaffa, Tel Aviv) as early as the 5th century BC. The traders named the point Strato's (or Straton&rsquos) Tower for the Sidonian king.
The whole of Syria was annexed by Pompey in 63 BC and ownership of the coast passed to Rome. In Judaea, Pompey installed an Hasmonaean, Hyrcanus II, as high priest and "ethnarch," with the Arab Antipater as the effective governor. Judaea's maritime trade remained insignificant.
A Parthian invasion in 41 BC, at a time when Rome was weakened by civil war, set a chain of events in motion which led eventually to the installation by Rome of Antipater's son Herod as its local client king. The coastal littoral had been ceded by Antony to Cleopatra but that was a concession which lapsed following Octavian's victory at Actium in 31 BC. The wily Herod reaffirmed his loyalty at Octavian's feet and secured from his new master both his kingdom and the small coastal town around Strato's Tower.
In his travels Herod had seen for himself the achievements of Rome. By employing the latest technologies of Rome &ndash particularly hydraulic concrete and massive artificial breakwaters &ndash Herod saw a way to give his kingdom a trading port on an unpromising stretch of Mediterranean coast. Eight years later work began.
Caesarea &ndash Herodian beginnings
In 22 BC, with the 10th Legion camped in the neighbourhood and providing manpower and expertise, Herod set about building an artificial harbour on the site of the ancient port, naming it, in honour of his Roman patron, Sebastos (Greek for Augustus). The southern breakwater curved outward for more than 700 metres, while the northern breakwater extended 275 metres from the shore.
To further ingratiate himself with his Roman master, Herod built a temple to the imperial cult on a raised platform facing the harbour, complete with massive statues of Augustus (modeled after the Zeus of Olympia) and Roma (after the Hera at Argos). This temple to a profane religion dominated the city and was visible far out at sea. So, too, was the Drusion Tower, almost certainly a lighthouse, erected at the entrance to the harbour and named for the emperor's deceased stepson.
On land adjoining the harbour Herod built diversions for his own enjoyment, including a palace, a theatre and a racetrack. With neither a spring nor a river close to the city Herod also had an aqueduct built from a water source on Mount Carmel six miles away.
"So this city was thus finished in twelve years during which time the king did not fail to go on both with the work, and to pay the charges that were necessary."
&ndash Josephus, Antiquities, 15.9.6.
Inaugural games celebrated completion of the harbour in 11 BC and t he new port began to attract a share of Rome's lucrative trade with the east. Local grain, oil, dates, figs and textiles passed through Herod's custom houses, along with more exotic spices, incense, silks and jewels from further east. Levies on the export trade funded the king's extravagant expenditure.
Impressive as the harbour was, the civilian city beyond the port began to develop only after Herod's death in 4 BC and especially after Caesarea was chosen as the seat of the Roman prefects and headquarters of the 10th Legion, early in the 1st century.
Caesarea &ndash a Roman garrison city
Herod's successor in Judaea &ndash his son Archelaus &ndash was deposed by Rome in 6 AD, and Caesarea was the obvious choice as seat of the Roman prefect. The Roman governor moved into the "promontory palace" built by Herod twenty years earlier and converted it into the Praesidium. With a legion in residence and all that that entailed, the city grew rapidly, becoming the economic and political hub of the whole province, and acquiring a thorough-going Roman character.
As the vibrant city developed, Caesarea attracted a community of Hellenized Jews, who settled in a Jewish quarter close to the original Strato's Tower, north of the harbour. The remains of their 5th century synagogue have been found on the seashore nearby. But for the most part, the city's population was drawn from Syrio-Greeks, the traditional seafarers of the eastern Mediterranean. Pagan shrines proliferated in the city and pagan festivals governed the annual calendar. Tyche was adopted as the city's protective goddess and other favoured cults included Isis/Aphrodite, Serapis, and Mithras.
By the mid-years of the century the Jewish minority had produced its own crop of rich merchants, who grew increasingly resentful of the dominant Greek influence. The Jews petitioned unsuccessfully for Nero's support for their claim to governance in the city &ndash a claim based on Caesarea's Herodian foundation. Nero, like Hadrian after him, was a philhellenist, and had little patience with Jewish particularism.
As residents of a thoroughly pagan metropolis, the frustrated Hellenized Jews, least in sympathy with the messianic dreams of Jewish fanatics, were pushed closer to the revolutionary aims of the zealots. Like that other great entrepot of the eastern Mediterranean, Alexandria, Caesarea became the scene of racial and cultural conflict. As the Talmud itself recognized, coexistence of the Jewish and Roman ways of life was "impossible."
"The ostensible pretext for the war was insignificant in comparison with the fearful disasters to which it led."
&ndash Josephus, Wars, 2.14.4.
In 66 AD, tensions between Jews and Greeks in Caesarea broke into the sectarian violence that precipitated the Jewish war with Rome &ndash and NOT the "death of the apostle James" or God's retribution for the "execution of Jesus"!
Josephus reports that a plot of land adjoining the synagogue of Caesarea was owned by a Greek. The local Jews insisted that he should sell them the land &ndash at a generous price &ndash so they could extend access to the synagogue. The Greek refused the Jewish offer and began the construction of workshops on the land in question. Hot headed Jewish zealots then attacked his labourers and the violence escalated.
This episode is often summarized as "desecration of the synagogue". Reports Josephus, not entirely without prejudice:
"As if divinely ordained, the inhabitants of Caesarea massacred the Jews who lived there in less than an hour more than 20,000 were slaughtered and Caesarea was wholly deprived of Jews, for even the fugitives were seized by Florus and sent in chains to the dockyards."
&ndash Josephus, Wars, 2.18.1.
The five-year conflict with Rome actually accelerated Caesarea's development. The city became the marshalling point for the Roman army and in July 67 a force of 60,000 troops, including allies and auxiliaries assembled here. That year and in the following three years, two legions (the 5th and 10th) had winter quarters in the city. A third legion (the 15th) moved up to Scythopolis.
After three years of war, in July of 69, Vespasian, already acclaimed by troops in Alexandria and distant Moesia, was hailed as emperor by his own legions in Caesarea. The soldiers received a donative and the city itself a new privileged status: Colonia Prima Flavia Augusta Caesarea. Untypically, the new colonia was not populated with army veterans. Rather, the locals were granted Italian rights for their loyalty to the Flavian cause.
As the war drew to its bloody climax, hundreds of captured rebels died in the arenas of Caesarea. Titus celebrated the birthday of his brother Domitian at Caesarea by executing Jewish prisoners.
"For the number of those who perished in combats with wild beasts, or in fighting each other, or by being burned alive exceeded twenty-five hundred. Yet all this seemed to the Romans too light a penalty, though their victims were dying in a myriad of ways."
&ndash Josephus , Wars, 7.3.1 .
Titus moved on to Berytus (Beirut) and celebrated his father's birthday in a similar fashion! The more fortunate Jews were sold as slaves at Gaza.
With the total destruction of the rival city of Jerusalem in 70 AD, Caesarea entered its most prosperous era.
Hadrian in Caesarea &ndash a Roman metropolis
"If someone tells you that Jerusalem and Caesarea are both flourishing or that both cities are destroyed, do not believe it. But if he says that one is flourishing and the other is destroyed, believe it."
&ndash Talmud, Megila 6a.
Following the first Jewish war and the destruction of Jerusalem, the city of Caesarea grew rapidly, becoming the economic and political center of province Palaestina, with a population above 125,000 and the hub of the road network. But then, during the reign of Hadrian (117-138), much of Judaea was wrecked by war a second time, the rebels on this later occasion led by Simon Bar Kosiba (aka Bar Kochba). Caesarea was again the marshalling point for the Roman army.
Hadrian himself visited the city in 130 and again in 134. Hadrian, like Titus sixty-four years earlier, executed Jewish rebels in the city. By tradition, the condemned including Akiva, a leading Jewish sage and the rabbi who had greeted the rebel leader as the expected Messiah (Yer. Ta'anit, iv. 68d).
By Hadrian's time Caesarea's outer harbour had deteriorated badly. The harbour had been wrecked by a tsunami in December 115. Tectonic activity had lowered the ocean floor and sunken parts of the breakwater were causing a hazard to shipping. Another earthquake struck in 132 when urban areas were again severely damaged. Much of the original city, including its celebrated harbour, had to be built anew, by Hadrian and his successor Antoninus Pius.
From the evidence of the theatre and elsewhere, "Herodian" materials were reused in the construction. Along the shoreline, Herod's ancient racetrack was shortened and redeveloped as an unusual elongated amphitheater, with double the original seating capacity. The governor's headquarters, the praetorium, was refurbished and extended fifty metres further east. A new pier was attached to the earlier, Herodian structure, to inhibit silting up of the inner harbour. A huge new hippodrome (circus), 460-metres long, was built inland to the east and was the venue for races that became famous throughout the Roman world. A second amphitheatre was added on the north side of the town. One of the many warehouses (horrea) from the Herodian period was redeveloped as a Mithraeum, doubtless to meet the religious needs of the military. To supply the city's larger 2nd century population, engineers of the 10th Legion tapped into a new water source, the Tanninim (Crocodile) River, running underground piping for four miles and then attached a second aqueduct to the first built by Herod a century earlier.
The harbour which gave birth to Caesarea remained in regular use until the 6th century, and sporadically thereafter until post-Crusader times. The imposing Augustan temple which dominated the harbour front was robbed out in the 6th century and replaced by an octagonal church, the Martyrion of the Holy Procopius. A substantial wall was thrown up around the central area of the city, abandoning the extensive suburbs.
In the late Byzantine period the amphitheater was converted into a palace-redoubt and the high rear wall of the abandoned theatre pressed into service as one side of a hastily constructed fortress. Forlorn marble statuary that had once embellished the ancient city was burned for lime and used in hastily constructed concrete defenses. The famous Christian library was destroyed, either by Persians or the Saracens, in the 7th century. The harbour area was the last toe-hold of the Byzantines in Palestine. The besieged garrison of Caesarea capitulated in 638, surrendering to the conqueror "two hundred thousand pieces of gold." (Gibbon).
Thereafter, a small Muslim community huddled around the harbour area throughout the 7th to 11th centuries. Crusaders took the town in 1101 and established a "principality" which lasted 150 years. But neither Arab conquerors of the 7th century nor Crusaders of the 12th century were capable of repairing or maintaining the civic amenities that had given grandeur to the ancient city. For more than a thousand years the aqueduct continued to feed water into Caesarea but when the structure was breached during the crusaders' wars, the still flowing water pooled north of the town, creating a swamp and a hazard of malaria.
Monumental courtyard buildings on the temple platform &ndash that probably functioned as "cloisters" for the Knights Templar &ndash still dominated Caesarea during the 13th century when Crusaders, in a brief period of optimism, began the construction of a cathedral to replaced the earlier church. The work was never completed.
Several times the town changed hands between Muslims and Christians, precipitating a steady desertion of most of the population. When the harbour finally silted up the Crusader settlement shrank to little more than a citadel built on the southern breakwater. Caesarea eventually disappeared under swamp and sand dunes.
PS: "The Holy Grail" &ndash Made in Caesarea!
The Holy Grail?
Roman glassware (Victoria and Albert Museum, London).
In May 1101 Crusaders from Genoa captured Caesarea and pillaged the small Islamic town. Among the booty that fell into their hands was a particularly fine hexagonal green dish taken from the mosque. The invaders were largely ignorant of glass-making and imagined that the dish had been carved from a giant emerald! Thus valued, the "gem" was used to pay their creditors back in Italy.
In Genoa, the precious vessel was delivered to the Church of San Lorenzo which, by 1104, laid claim to one-third of Caesarea. Within a century &ndash perhaps the prelates having learnt something about glass-making? &ndash the dish had been accorded a more sacred value: it was declared to have been used by Jesus at the Last Supper &ndash the sacro catino or Holy Grail.
The bauble was particularly useful at a time when the Catholic church was exalting the mystique and ritual of "Holy Communion."
The dish in reality is early Islamic glassware. The Romans had been outstanding glass-makers and the skill had not been entirely lost in the Muslim world.
Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 15 Jewish War I.
Avner Raban, Kenneth Holum, Caesarea Maritima - A Retrospective after Two Millennia (Brill, 1995)
Eusebius, The Martyrs of Palestine (Digireads, 2005)
Ehud Netzer, The Architecture of Herod, the Great Builder (Baker, 2008)
Lee I. Levine, "Roman Caesarea: An Archaeological-Topographical Study." Qedem II, 1975
Lee I. Levine, Caesarea under Roman rule (Brill, 1975)
M. Grant, Herod the Great (McGraw-Hill, 1971)
Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, The Holy Land (OUP, 1986)
The burning of the White House: When British forces invaded Washington
The storming of the US Capitol by pro-Trump supporters on 6 January 2021 was a shocking and surreal spectacle. But it was not the first time the heart of American democracy had been subjected to a violent assault. The Capitol, and even the White House, had come under attack well over 200 years ago, during a war between the United States and the United Kingdom.
This wasn’t the American War of Independence, which had concluded in 1783, but the far more obscure War of 1812, a conflict which has since been pretty much forgotten among non-historians in the UK. The War of 1812 broke out after years of simmering tension between the former colonies and their former overlords, and the reasons were messily complex. One major motivation for the conflict was the crackdown on international commerce by the British, who wanted to block the US from trading with their great enemy, the French. There was also the British Navy’s habit of boarding US ships looking for British 'deserters', who they would then force to become crewmen on British ships – a practice known as impressment which Americans regarded as a violation of their sovereignty. Another source of tension in the lead up to the War of 1812 was Britain’s support for Native American tribes, who were stubbornly resisting American expansion to the west.
The War of 1812 would go on for more than two and a half years and include some pivotal moments in US history. One was the Battle of Baltimore, where a bombardment by the British would inspire onlooker Francis Scott Key to write what would become The Star-Spangled Banner, the US national anthem. And then there was the 'Burning of Washington', which took place on 24 August 1814, and saw the capital ravaged by British forces.
US Attorney General Richard Rush had witheringly dismissed it as a 'meagre village with a few bad houses and extensive swamps'
The Brits were led by Major-General Robert Ross, a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars. Attacking Washington was regarded as a sound strategic move for symbolic reasons, even though the young capital itself was regarded as something as a backwater. (US Attorney General Richard Rush had witheringly dismissed it as a 'meagre village with a few bad houses and extensive swamps', while a British diplomat had once lamented being dispatched to 'an absolute sepulchre, this hole'.)
The burning of Washington was immediately preceded by the Battle of Bladensburg, which took place just outside the capital and was a crushing victory for the British. One of those present at Bladensburg was none other than US President James Madison, who had two pistols strapped to his waist and became the first sitting US president to come under fire by a foreign enemy. Following the immense defeat at Bladensburg, he was forced on the run and would eventually seek refuge in a nearby town called Brookeville, which would later become known as 'United States’ Capital for a Day.
Read more about: American History
Presidential historian Doris Kearns-Goodwin on George Washington
Meanwhile, victorious British troops invaded Washington and made a beeline for the Capitol, which at the time hadn’t been completed but whose splendour took many of the troops by surprise. It’s been said that many soldiers were actually hesitant when given the order to destroy such a beautiful building, but the order was indeed carried out. Furniture was stacked up to create massive bonfires, while the presence of thousands of books in the Library of Congress collection fuelled the blaze further. Watching the hellish conflagration, French minister Louis Sérurier said 'I have never beheld a spectacle more terrible and at the same time more magnificent.'
Some soldiers even wandering into private quarters to snatch souvenirs and try on the President’s clothes
The British then set their sights on an even more politically resonant target: the White House. On hearing of the enemy’s advance, First Lady Dolley Madison famously ordered that an iconic painting of George Washington be taken down and smuggled to safety, saying 'Save that picture if possible! If not possible, destroy it. Under no circumstances allow it to fall into the hands of the British!'
When the British forces finally arrived at the deserted White House, they helped themselves to food and drink that had been laid out for the President’s family and officials, with some soldiers even wandering into private quarters to snatch souvenirs and try on the President’s clothes. The building was then set on fire – the one and only time in its long history it would be harmed by enemy forces. It was a devastating inferno, and char marks from the 1814 fire are still visible on parts of the structure today.
Read more about: History of America
Surprising family links of US Presidents
Curiously, though, the burning of Washington is generally regarded as the event which really cemented the city’s place in the American consciousness. Many had previously wanted the capital moved elsewhere, but such a proposal was voted down after the burning. As historian Kenneth Bowling says, 'Because the buildings were burned and it was such a national insult, Americans rose to the defence of Washington DC.' Since then, the capital has only come under attack two more times: during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and during the pro-Trump riot of January 2021.
Continuing Education Events for Library Staff
June 21, 2021 10:00am-11:30pm
July 1, 2021 promises even more of a "return to normal." What do these changes mean to libraries struggling with staff anxiety, patron anxiety - and that pesky vaccination situation? Employment attorney Mike Blum and library law attorney Anne Seurynck are pairing up to offer Michigan libraries tips and suggestions on finding their "new normal."
June 22, 2021 10:00am-11:00am
The Library of Michigan will be reviewing the guidelines for and answering questions about the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Capacity grant. This grant is open to Michigan library cooperatives and Michigan non-profits providing statewide library services.
June 22, 2021 2:00pm-3:00pm
The Library of Michigan will be reviewing the guidelines for and answering questions about the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Equipment grant. This grant is open to Michigan public libraries.
The Third Jewish Revolt
So began the Third Jewish War or the Bar Kokhba Revolt, which lasted from 132 – 136 AD, a bloody conflict that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths on both sides and the destruction of nearly 100 Jewish cities and almost 1,000 villages.
It all but eradicated the Jewish presence in the Jews’ own homeland and is considered by some scholars to be the start of the Jewish diaspora.
15th century representation of Hadrian expelling the Jews from Jerusalem. Image Credit: Public Domain
Capital, Library of Hadrian - History
Being a tour guide for 23 years and a traveler for a lifetime, I have seen my share of ruins. I have watched the sunrise in Anghor Wat, the sunset in Tikal, chased the lamas in Machu Pichu, been chased down by the vendors in Chicken Itza, swum in the bays of ancient cities and hiked around hidden temples, and I still think Ephesus is the best ancient site to visit.Of course when you visit the ruins of Ephesus for more than 2000 times it is not easy to be biased about it but let me try to explain you, item by item, why I think Ephesus is the best as objectively as possible.
One, it is older Ephesus is older than most of the ruins you see. The Ephesus everybody visits was founded in 4th.century B.C., but the first city-it is believed there has been at least 5 cities- dates back to 10th century B.C. Half a mile away from the ruins of Ephesus, in Cukurhoyuk, which is a mound, archaeologists unearthed artifacts dating back to 6200 B.C.
Two, it lasted longer. Even if we only focus on the city visited by the tourists today, I cant help being amazed by the fact that it existed between 4th century B.C and 15th century A.D. despite all the eathquakes, wars, deseases, fires it had to endure.
Three, it played a more important role in world history. Ephesus served as the capital city of Asia Minora neokros at least twice, was visited by Aleander the great, Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, became a home to St Paul, St John and Virgin Mary. It was so wealthy that the temple of Artemis - one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world-, the third biggest library Celsus Library, the second biggest gymnasium of the ancient world, the largest theater of Asia Minor were all built there.
Four, has more to see around it. Within a ten minute drive from Ephesus, there are amazing places to visit such as The House of Virgin Mary, as where she is believed to spend her last years, The Basilica of St John, where St John the apostle was buried, The Temple of Artemis and a beautiful Ephesus museum of archaeology. There are beaches for beach lovers, factory outlets for shoppers, and local restaurants for foodies.
Five, It is easier and cheaper to see. Ephesus is located in the town of Selcuk which is 45 minutes away from the International airport of Izmir, and only 20 minutes away from Kusadasi Cruise port. You can take public transport, a taxi or a tour from both destinations and the cost is very low. The entrance fee of Ephesus at the moment is only 11 usd, House of Virgin Mary 5, St John’s Basilica and the Museum is about 3.
Six, better ruins. When you walk along the marble streets of Ephesus, it feels like you hve travelled back in time. It is not bits of ruins here and there, most of the city center has been ezxcavated and re-erected. You get to see most of the state and social buildings and thanks to the hard work of the Austrian team now you are able to see the interior of the houses of the wealthiest citizens of Ephesus.
Seven, better guides. As guiding is a well paid and respected job in Turkey, a lot of youngsters want to become guides. As a result most of the guides have great education and speak languages fluently. Seing sites with a guide makes a great difference and some of the best guides in the country work in Ephesus area
To sum up almost every single ancient city that I have seen has enriched and improved my life but if I was to choose, Ephesus is “the one” for me.
Don’t mess with Israel: What happened after Rome destroyed Jerusalem
Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC on the date in the Jewish calendar 9th of Av, or Tisha B’Av.
The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans on the same date, Tisha B’Av, in 70 AD. Rome’s destruction of the Temple began in 66 AD, when Roman Emperor Nero appointed General Vespasian to put down a revolt in Judea.
Romans depicted destroying the second temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD / Francesco Hayez
Almost immediately, Rome experienced chaos. Nero committed suicide in 68 AD. His successor, Galba, was assassinated within 8 months. His successor, Otho, committed suicide within 2 months. His successor, Vitellius, was executed within 8 months.
Vespasian was the next Emperor and his son, Titus, continued the conquest of Judea. Titus surrounded Jerusalem and starved inhabitants for months. Titus ordered Jewish deserters from Jerusalem to be crucified around the walls. By the end of July, 70 AD, the Roman Army broke through the walls. Jerusalem was completely conquered by Sept. 8, 70 AD. Historian Josephus recorded that over a million Jews were killed in the siege.
According to historian Eusebius, Romans hunted down and killed all descendants of the royal line of David. The Jewish Temple was so completely destroyed that only the foundation stones of the Temple Mount were left, which are the bottom rows of the Wailing Wall.
Jewish Temple treasures were carried off to Rome, as shown on the Arch of Titus, and were used to finance the building of Rome’s Colosseum.
The Colosseum was so named as it was next to Nero’s 100 foot high bronze Colossus Statue depicting the Roman sun god Apollo, modeled after the 100 foot high bronze Colossus Statue of Rhodes depicting the Greek son god Helios. France’s gift of The Statue of Liberty-the New Colossus was modeled after it.
Emperor Vespasian caught a slight illness in 79 AD which led to severe diarrhea and death. His last words were: “Oh dear! I think I’m becoming a god!”
Titus became the next Emperor and two months later Mount Vesuvius erupted, destroying the Bay of Naples, including the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Thousands of Romans were buried alive under feet of volcanic ash. Then, in the spring of 80 AD, Rome caught fire.
Flames burned out of control for three days and nights destroying much of Capitoline Hill, the Temple of Jupiter, Pantheon, and Pompey’s Theater.
Then followed the worst outbreak of plague that Rome had yet endured. Titus decided to dedicate the Colosseum to commemorate his victories in the Jewish wars.
For 100 days, thousands were killed in executions and gladiatorial fights, in addition to 5,000 animals. Following the games, Titus died after just two years in office. He is rumored to have been poisoned on orders of his brother, Domitian, who became the next emperor.
In 135 AD, on the date Tisha B’Av, Roman Emperor Hadrian had another 500,000 Jews massacred at Betar during Bar Kokhba’s revolt. Emperor Hadrian believed the source of Jewish rebellion was their faith, so he executed Jewish scholars, prohibited the Torah and the Hebrew calendar, and burned the sacred scroll on the Temple Mount.
In an attempt to completely erase Jewish history from the land, Emperor Hadrian renamed the province of Judea “Syria Palaestina.”
This is the origin of the region being referred to as “Palestine.” Hadrian also changed the name of Jerusalem to “Aelia Capitolina,”
Jews were banned from entering Jerusalem on pain of death.
Eusebius wrote in his History of the Church (ser. II, vol. I, book IV, chapter VI): “The Last Siege of the Jews Under Hadrian — The whole nation was prohibited from this time on by a decree, and by the commands of Hadrian, from ever going up to the country about Jerusalem. For the emperor gave orders that they should not even see from a distance the land of their fathers. Such is the account of Aristo of Pella.
And thus, when the city had been emptied of the Jewish nation and had suffered the total destruction of its ancient inhabitants, it was colonized by a different race, and the Roman city which subsequently arose changed its name and was called Aelia, in honor of the emperor Aelius Hadrian.”
Cassius Dio wrote in Roman History (69.12): “At Jerusalem Hadrian founded a city in place of the one which had been razed to the ground, naming it Aelia Capitolina, and on the site of the temple of the god he raised a new temple to Jupiter.
This brought on a war of no slight importance nor of brief duration, for the Jews deemed it intolerable that foreign races should be settled in their city and foreign religious rites planted there.”
Eusebius wrote in Demonstratio Evangelica (8.3 405, circa 314 – 318 AD): “Jerusalem … is even now like a quarry, all the inhabitants of the city choosing stones from its ruins as they will for private as well as public buildings.
And it is sad for the eyes to see stones from the Temple itself, and from its ancient sanctuary and holy place, used for the building of idol temples, and of theatres for the populace.”
Emperor Hadrian’s reign was the beginning of the contraction of the Roman Empire, with Hadrian’s Wall across the whole of Britain marking the Empire’s furthest extent.
Jews were later allowed to enter Jerusalem once a year to pray at the Western Wall on Tisha B’Av.
The Land of Israel was invaded or occupied by:
135 AD Roman Empire
390 AD Byzantine Empire
614 AD Sassanid Persians
635 AD Umayyad Caliphate
750 AD Abbasid Caliphate
909 AD Fatimid Caliphate
1071 AD Seljuk Turks
1099 AD Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem
1187 AD Ayyubid Sultanate
1260 AD Mongolian Empire
1291 AD Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt
1517 AD Ottoman Sultanate
1660 AD Druze Dynasty
1799 AD French Napoleon
1844 AD Tanzimat Ottoman Empire
1864 AD Ottoman Vilayet of Syria
1917 AD Britain Mandate
For centuries, people across the world desired to make pilgrimagew to Jerusalem, including Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln.
The Library of Congress has a scrapbook with an account by Rev. N.W. Miner of Springfield, who officiated Lincoln’s burial, in which are recalled President Lincoln’s last words while at Ford’s Theater with his wife:
“Mrs. Lincoln informed me that … the very last moments of his conscious life were spent in conversation with her about his future plans … He said he wanted to visit the Holy Land and see those places hallowed by the footprints of the Saviour. He was saying there was no city he so much desired to see as Jerusalem.”
In 1917, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration establishing the Jewish homeland. On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel came into being again. In 1967, Jerusalem was once again under Jewish control.
Jerusalem was reaffirmed as Israel’s capital with “The Basic Law: Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel,” passed in 1980.
The United Nations was created in part to protect the Jews after they had suffered though the Nazi holocaust. One of the first acts of the United Nations was to recognize the State of Israel.
The U.N. Security Council has threatened to vote to divide Jerusalem and take a third of Israel away to create a Palestinian State.
Just as the Roman Empire experienced a series of disasters after it forced Jews from the land, some consider it more than coincidental the timing of various events relating to the United States turning against Israel:
On Oct. 30, 1991, President George H.W. Bush signed the Oslo Accord pressuring Israel to give “land for peace.” The next day, “The Perfect Storm” hit New England causing damages over $100 million, including 30 foot waves demolishing the home of President George H.W. Bush at Kennebunkport, Maine.
On Aug. 23, 1992, President George H.W. Bush pressured Israel with the Madrid “land for peace” agreement. The same day, Hurricane Andrew smashed into Florida causing $30 billion in damages, destroying over 180,000 homes.
On Jan. 16, 1994, President Bill Clinton met in Geneva with Syria’s President Hafez el-Assad to discuss Israel giving up the Golan Heights in exchange for peace. Within 24 hours a 6.9 Earthquake devastated Southern California.
On Jan. 21, 1998, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was snubbed at the White House when President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright refused to have lunch with him. The same day, the Monica Lewinsky scandal erupted.
On Sept. 28, 1998, Secretary of State Albright detailed another “land for peace” agreement requiring Israel to surrender 13 percent of the West Bank and Gaza.
President Clinton met with Yasser Arafat and Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, followed by Arafat telling the United Nations there would soon be a Palestinian State. The same day, Hurricane Georges hit the Gulf Coast causing $1 billion in damages.
On Oct. 15, 1998, Yassar Arafat and Benjamin Netanyahu met in Maryland to discuss Israel giving up 13 percent of the West Bank and Gaza in exchange for “peace.” Two days later, tornadoes hit Texas leaving $1 billion in damages.
On Dec. 12, 1998, President Clinton arrived in the Palestinian area to discuss Israel giving up “land for peace.” The same day, President Clinton was impeached.
On May 3, 1999, Yasser Arafat had scheduled a press conference to announce a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital. The same day, the most powerful tornado storms to hit the United States whipped through Oklahoma and Kansas.
On June 8, 2001, President George W. Bush sent Secretary Tenet to Jerusalem with a proposal to exchange land for a “Roadmap to Peace.” The same day, tropical Storm Allison hit Texas causing $7 billion in damage and closing George Bush Airport for two days.
As part of a U.S. brokered deal, Jews were forcibly evacuated from Gaza, with the last Jewish residents being dragged out on Aug. 22, 2005. The very next day, a tropical depression in the Atlantic turned into Hurricane Katrina and headed straight for New Orleans, forcing tens of thousands to evacuate.
Property damage in New Orleans exceeded $81 billion. Nearly 2,000 people died. It was one of the deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history.
The word “Islam” means submission to the will of Allah. A Muslim is one who has submitted to the will of Allah.
The Islamic concept of “peace” is when the world submits to will of Allah. In other words, to a fundamental Muslim, “world peace” means “world Islam.”
The Islamic concept of “treaty” is “hudna,” which means, when you are weak make treaties until you grow strong enough to disregard them.” When an enemy is willing to negotiate, it is a sign of their weakness.
The Islamic concept is, when your enemy shows weakness, that is Allah giving them to you–thereby emboldening Muslims to violence.
Instead of “land of peace,” when Hamas took over Gaza, they began digging more tunnels and firing thousands of rockets into Israel.
Just two weeks after Jewish residents were forcibly removed from Gaza, President Bush delivered a Day of Prayer and Remembrance address, Sept. 8, 2005: “Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters in our Nation’s history and has caused unimaginable devastation and heartbreak throughout the Gulf Coast Region … Communities … decimated … Lives … lost … Hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans are suffering great hardship.”
Though not a call to repentance, as past Presidents had proclaimed, President Bush did end his Day of Prayer and Remembrance with: “To honor the memory of those who lost their lives, to provide comfort and strength to families of the victims … I call upon all Americans to pray to Almighty God and to perform acts of service … Across our Nation, many selfless deeds reflect the promise of the Scripture:
‘For I was hungry and you gave Me food I was thirsty and you gave Me drink I was a stranger and you took Me in.'”
Don’t mess with Israel: What happened after Rome destroyed Jerusalem added by World Tribune Life on September 25, 2017
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42 Amazing Things to Do in Athens
Visit the Acropolis
You can buy a combined ticket for 30 € that entitles you with entrance to the following archaeological sites: Acropolis of Athens, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, Hadrian’s Library, Kerameikos, Museum of the Ancient Agora, North slope of Acropolis, Olympieio, Roman Agora of Athens, South Slope of Acropolis. With just one ticket you will see the most important points of interest in Athens.
If you just want to visit the Acropolis tickets cost 20€ from April 1st to October 30th and 10€ from November 1st to March 31st and you can buy them online at the official e-ticketing service of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.
The crowds are huge between April and October at the Acropolis. If you want to beat them I recommend that you visit the Acropolis at the opening time (8:00 am). If you are interested in a guided tour I recommend this No-Crowds Acropolis Tour & Skip the Line Acropolis Museum Tour by the company Take Walks that gets you in the Acropolis for the first viewing of the day. This way not only you beat the crowds but the heat as well. It also includes a skip the line tour to the Acropolis museum.
Another great option is the Best of Athens tour that takes you to the Acropolis for the first viewing without any crowds and also in the Ancient Agora and a walk around Plaka. This way you can see the best of Athens in 4 hours. Plus with the combo pass that you get, you have access to five more top Athens attractions for the next five days.
Finally, If you are interested in a guided tour of both the Acropolis Museum and the Acropolis, I recommend the Athens, Acropolis and Acropolis Museum Including Entry Fees. This 5-hour guided tour includes skipping the line entrance tickets to both sites and a guided tour as well. It also includes a visit to the Panathenaic Stadium and the Royal Gardens.
Acropolis Museum is considered one of the most important museums in Greece. It houses more than 3.000 artifacts from the Acropolis. After your visit, you can grab lunch or coffee at the museum’s restaurant with breathtaking views of the Acropolis.
National Archaeological Museum
It is the largest museum in Greece with more than 20.000 exhibits covering a vast period of history from the beginnings of Prehistory to Late Antiquity. It is one of the must-sees on your visit to Athens.
Watch the Change of the Guards
In front of the Parliament at Syntagma square lies the Monument of the Unknown Soldier. It is guarded around the clock by two men wearing a traditional uniform called Evzones. Every hour takes place the ceremony of the Changing of the Guards.
A good way to save money and time on your visit to Athens is to buy the Athens City Pass. I recommend the Classic or Complete Athens City Pass. For more information: Athens City Pass.
Have a picnic at the National Gardens
The National Gardens are located behind the Parliament. It is an area with lush greenery, offering an oasis in the center of Athens. It is an ideal place to relax and have a snack and one of the best things to do to unwind in the city.
Visit the Panathenaic Stadium
If you are a sports history buff then one of the things to do in Athens is to visit the Panathenaic Stadium. The first Modern Olympic Games were held there making the stadium a monument of significant importance. It is the only stadium in the world made from white marble and has a capacity of 60.000 spectators.
Climb Philopappos Hill
Philopappou hill is a beautiful park with great views of the Acropolis. There you can discover the Philopappou Monument, handmade cobbled roads, and the church of Ayios Demetrios Loumbardiaris, the 16th-century basilica with great murals. The area of Philopappou Hill has been designated a Scheduled and Protected Monument of the Global Cultural Heritage.
Stroll the paved streets of Plaka
Located at the foot of Acropolis, it’s the oldest neighborhood in Athens. Plaka is a picturesque neighborhood with narrow streets, neoclassical houses, shops, restaurants, and ruins from the Roman era.
Visit Anafiotika, an island in the center of Athens
Anafiotika is located in the upper area of Plaka, just under the Acropolis. It is a beautiful area constructed by builders from the Aegean island of Anafi and resembles a Greek island.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
The Temple of Olympian Zeus is one of the most impressive sights in Athens with the huge temple columns standing in the view of the looming Acropolis. The building of this site began in the 6th Century but was not completed until almost 700 years later in 131AD!
While only around 15 columns remain today (of the original 100+), you can still imagine the splendor of the site as it would have been. This was once considered to be the largest temple in Greece so it is of great importance for those interested in Greek history.
Tickets: Included in the special ticket package of 30 €
Arch of Hadrian
Hadrian’s Gate or the Arch of Hadrian is a stunning monument in the heart of Athens. This gateway is located between the Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus so is an easy site to add to your Greek sightseeing trip.
The large marble gate was a boundary between ancient Athens and Hadrian’s new city which can be seen by the inscriptions on each side of the arch. Visiting this stunning symmetrical site is a must during any trip to the Greek capital.
The site of the Ancient Agora is one of the largest historical sites in Athens and is a must for all travelers and culture vultures! The sprawling market site features a range of buildings and ruins that take you back to social life in ancient Greece.
This marketplace would have been one of the main meeting spots for all citizens, with philosophical talks, healing baths, religious meetings and trades all taking place.
Tickets: Included in the special ticket package of 30 €
Visit the Benaki Museum
The Benaki Museum is one of the most interesting museums in the capital and has been open to the public since 1930. This historical and cultural museum shows the development of Greece through the ages.
The collections include a plethora of exhibits that highlight the variety of cultures that have had a profound impact on the country. From Roman rule to Greek independence, the Benaki Museum gives you a great insight into Greek life and history.
Visit the Roman Agora
Situated just north of the Acropolis, the Roman Agora was the focus of life in the city. It was rectangular in size and shaded by trees and while the women bought goods from the merchants, the men discussed the politics of the day.
Check out the Archaeological site of Kerameikos
Kerameikos was the cemetery of ancient Athens from the 9th century BC until Roman times. Excavations have revealed temples, marble statues, and thousands of tombs.
Visit the Museum of Cycladic Art
In the 1960s, Nicholas and Dolly Goulandris began collecting ancient artifacts and Cycladic figurines. Their collection grew to more than 3,000 pieces, which are now housed in this museum- one of the most important in the world.
Visit Hadrian’s Library
Built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2 nd century AD, the library was his largest project. Built as a forum, with an ornamental pool in the central courtyard, there was a library, parchment store, music rooms, and lecture halls.
Watch a performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Situated just below the Acropolis, this stunning outdoor stone theatre was originally built for musical competitions. Today, the Odeon hosts the world’s best performers and this is the only time it is open to visitors.
Check out Monastiraki flea Market
It is amazing to find a colorful flea market in the heart of Ancient Athens! There are numerous stalls selling clothing, leather, and crafts as well as some selling second-hand trinkets too – it’s a great place to buy souvenirs!
See the Lyceum of Aristotle
The Lyceum was originally a temple dedicated to Apollo Lyceus, but in 334 BC, Aristotle founded the Peripatetic School of Philosophy in this sacred place. It was there he taught politics, metaphysics, ethics, and logic and Plato was his most important student.
Explore the Psiri Neighbourhood
Close to Monastiraki Square, you will find the Psari neighborhood, which is well known for its vibrant street art, Varvakios Food Market, all types of shops, plenty of cheap tavernas with tasty cheap food, and trendy cafés.
See the Neoclassical Buildings in Panepistimiou Avenue
Along Panepistimiou Street you will find a number of the most important public buildings of the city. Some of these buildings include the Athens Academy, the University, the National Library, the Arsakeion Mansion, and many more.
Visit the Ottoman monuments
There are a lot of buildings that were preserved from the time that Athens was conquered by the Ottomans (1456 – March 1833). Some of them are the Mosques located in Monastiraki Square, the Hamam (Turkish Baths) which is now home to a museum and many cultural events.
Climb Lycabettus hill
Lycabettus hill can be reached either on foot through the many footpaths and by the funicular. At the top, there is an open-air theatre that hosts a lot of cultural events in the summer. If you find yourself in Athens at this time of year watching a performance from up there is a unique experience.
You can also visit the church of Ayios Georgios enjoy your coffee in the café or have dinner in Orizodes restaurant. Most importantly enjoy the incredible view of the city.
Visit Athens Central Market
Athens Central Market has been in operation from well over 100 years and is a hub of fresh produce and traditional delicacies that will make you hungry in an instant! The sights and smells you will encounter here will have you longing to try new things and dine out Greek style.
Favorites include cured meats, fresh fish, delicious deserts and herbs and spices. The market is open every day apart from Sunday, so there’s really no excuse not to go for a wander.
See a performance at Dora’s Stratou theatre
The group of Dora’s Stratou theatre consists of 75 dancers, musicians, and singers. The dancers wear traditional Greek costumes from various regions of the country and perform songs and dances from all the periods of Greek history. The show lasts 90 minutes and tickets cost 15 euros for adults.
Relax in a Hammam
After all that walk you have done in order to discover the city, the best thing to do is find a place to relax and pamper yourself. Hammam is the perfect place to do it. It is located in the center of Athens and offers services like hammam baths, massage and beauty treatments.
Stavros Niarchos Foundation
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is a fascinating cultural center that holds exhibitions and festivals throughout the year. The complex features the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera among other galleries and theatres that celebrate Greek culture.
The development is an architectural work of art and is a great space for both indoor and outdoor events. With an ice-skating rink in winter and summer sailing when the weather’s bright, there are loads of fun-filled activities for both adults and kids alike.
Outlet shopping in Spata
In the Spata area close to the airport and the zoological park there the Mc Arthur Glenn Athens designer outlet. It is a big mall with many shops, restaurants, cafes, playgrounds, and a cinema. The easiest way to get there is by public transport. The closest metro station is Doukissis Plakedias. From there you can either take the bus 319 or take the free shuttle.
Watch the sunset in Sounio
Sounio is located just 1 hour away from the city of Athens. Apart from the lovely beaches in the area where you can have a swim in the summer, it is famous for its archaeological site. At Sounio you can visit the temple of Poseidon the god of the sea, from where you can admire one of the most beautiful sunsets. Sounio is a very popular day trip from Athens.
For more information check this half-day sunset tour to Sounio it that lasts approx 4 hours.
Cruise to 3 nearby islands
From the port of Piraeus, you can catch one of the many ships that make daily excursions to 3 islands of the Saronic Gulf. The beautiful islands of Hydra, Poros, and Aegina. While onboard you will have the chance to enjoy a beautiful buffet and live entertainment.
Swim at Lake Vouliagmeni
If you are keen on cooling down and being in nature then one of the top things to do in Athens is to swim at Lake Vouliagmeni. The lake is located in the suburb of Athens called Vouliagmeni just 25 km from the center of Athens. It is famous for its therapeutic waters that maintain a 24 degrees Celsius temperature year-round. Apart from swimming you, there is a café on site along with a playground for the children.
Try Street Food
Trying one of the many street food available in Athens is something you shouldn’t miss. There is a big variety from the traditional Greek souvlaki and the koulouri to oriental choices like Indian souvlaki and falafels
Enjoy your coffee or drink with a view
There are many rooftop bars and cafes in the city offering panoramic views of the Acropolis and the city of Athens. You could try the café at the Acropolis museum or the rooftop of A for Athens hotel in Monastiraki square.
Tip: A good way to save money and time on your visit to Athens is to buy the Athens City Pass I recommend the Classic or Complete Athens Pass. For more information: Athens City Pass
Watch a movie in an open-air cinema
There are a couple of open-air cinemas that operate during the summer months in the center of Athens some of them offering incredible views of the city and the Acropolis like Cine Thisio.
Admire the Street Art
In the last couple of years, Athens has been filled with remarkable Street Art. You can discover it either by yourselves in the streets around Monastiraki and Psiri area or by a guided tour.
Go on a Mythological Tour of Athens
For those that love the myth and magic of Greek history, this Athens Mythology Highlights Tour gives you an awesome insight into the country’s culture. Your visit to the Acropolis with a licensed guide allows you to delve deeper into the myths behind the famous site and discover more about Ancient Greek society.
You’ll feel as though you’ve traveled back in time when you explore the ancient sites such as the Parthenon, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and imagine the daily lives that this civilization lived so many years ago!
Learn how to cook Greek food
Mediterranean cuisine is probably one of the best in the world, with fresh produce, great flavors and relaxed dining at its heart. This four-hour cooking course allows you to learn the ropes at making traditional Greek food from scratch.
Discover market-fresh ingredients and aromatic herbs and spices that make up the basis for delicious Greek cuisine. You’ll enjoy an aperitif and mezze nibbles during your class before sitting down with a glass of wine to enjoy a heart Greek Sunday lunch – yum!
Your teacher will send you off with recipe cards for the dishes you’ve made so you can impress your friends and family back home with your new-found skills.
Taste the best of Greece on a food tour
The Original Gourmet Food Tour of Athens is a four-hour food fiesta that gives you the chance to delve into the markets, cafés, bars, and delis of Athens to try the city’s best cuisine.
From classic Greek coffee brewed in a traditional style to quintessentially Greek olives, mezze, oil, and vinegar, this is a whistle-stop tour of the top titbits. The Greeks are also known for their sweet treats so no food tour would be complete without Greek yogurt and honey, loukoumades (Greek donuts) and custard-filled filo pies.
Explore the Beaches of Athens
While there is a lot to see in the city, your heart may be yearning for soft sand and the smell of sea air when visiting Greece. If so, you’re in luck as there are plenty of beaches to explore not far out of Athens.
From the luxurious beach bars and sunbeds of Astir Vouliagmeni or the popular spot of Edem, you will be sure to find a spot that suits your style. Some beaches are easily accessible by taxi or public transport, but if you want to find something a little quieter, you’d be better hiring a car so you can venture further afield.
Watch an Ancient Drama
If you want a slice of Ancient Greek culture in a modern-day style, why not watch a drama at the Fimonoi Theater in the heart of Athens? With contemporary performances of classic Greek romance and tragedy stories, the actors at the Fimonoi Theater really draw you into life in Ancient Greece.
This experience is totally unique to Athens and is the perfect activity for those who love theatre, drama, classics, and the arts. Held in the Athinais Cultural Center, Fimonoi Theater productions allow you to enjoy Ancient Dramas with English and French overtitles. Click here for more information.
Explore the Athenian Riviera
If you want to be like a true Athenian then you’ll want to make sure you take a little time out of the city center to enjoy the chic Athenian Riviera. This coastal region is filled with pristine beaches, stylish bars and tavernas, boutique hotels and a laid-back lifestyle that will make you feel as though you are a million miles from the capital! The Riviera stretches from Faliro to Cape Sounion so you can explore each of the different seaside towns, stopping at whichever takes your fancy.
The Best Time to Visit Athens
The great thing about Athens is that it really is a year-round destination thanks to its range of sights and attractions that allow you to explore come rain or shine.
However, it is worth noting that Athens does get extremely hot in summer and is probably best avoided in August (and perhaps July) when temperatures soar and hordes of tourists descend on the city. Although in August the city is only filled by tourists as locals visit the islands,
The shoulder seasons of April-June and September-November are arguably the best time to visit as you can easily walk around the city sights without being too hot or cold. Unlike many of the Greek islands, Athens stays open all year round, with restaurants, hotels, museums, and attractions being open for business as usual.
Of course, if you want to visit both Athens and the coast, you’ll want to choose May, June, September, or October so that you can enjoy the heat while outside the city but not be too sweltering when walking around the Acropolis and Ancient Agora!
How to get from and to Athens airport
There are quite a few options for getting from Athens airport to downtown, and it all depends on your personal preference! It’s also worth asking if your hotel offers any transfers from the airport to there!
Metro” You can take the metro, and choose Line 3 which will take you from Athens airport straight to the city center. It runs every 30 minutes, all week long, from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm. The entire trip will last you about 40 minutes, and you will be dropped off at Syntagma square. The ticket costs 10 euros. The metro is a great option since it’s clean, new, all stops are clearly identified, and you get to avoid traffic.
Bus: You have the option of taking a bus from the express bus station, and you can choose from five different lines. The trip takes from 35 to 60 minutes depending on your destination.
X95 is the one you should take to reach the city center. It will drop you off right at Syntagma square. Tickets cost 6 EUR.
Shuttle Bus: If you want to avoid waiting at a bus stop and want to be taken or picked up from the hotel, a shuttle bus is a great option. Cost: 20 EUR p.p
Taxis: Taxis are a convenient option, specifically if you have a lot of luggage and you’re not tight on budget. You’ll find dozens of taxis standing at the designated Taxi waiting area, right after you get out of Exit 3 of Arrivals Level.
There is a flat rate of 38 EUR from the airport to the city center, and if you arrive from midnight until 5 am that increases sharply to 54 EUR.
Private Airport Transfer with Welcome Taxi: You can pre-book a car online before your arrival, and find your driver waiting for you at the arrivals with a welcome name sign and a bag with a bottle of water and a map of the city, thus saving you all the hassle of having to find a taxi/bus/metro.
There is a flat rate of 38 EUR from the airport to the city center, and if you arrive from midnight until 5 am that increases sharply to 54 EUR.
Where to stay in Athens, Greece
Here are my picks for the best accommodations in Athens, Greece:
Athens is usually fully booked from April to November so book early for the best hotels and prices.
Budget Hotels in Athens
Attalos Hotel offers simple air-conditioned rooms with free wi-fi just 100m away from Monastiraki square.
Evripides Hotel is located near Monastiraki square, close to all the city’s attractions. It offers simple air-conditioned rooms with free wi-fi.
Mid-Range Hotels in Athens
Titania Hotel is centrally located 5 minutes on foot from Syntagma Hotel. It offers renovated air-conditioned room with free wi-fi and great views of the Acropolis from its rooftop terrace.
Best Western Amazon Hotel is centrally located between Syntagma square and Plaka. It offers air-conditioned rooms and free wi-fi.
Boutique Hotels in Athens
Acropolis Museum Boutique Hotel is located in a restored neoclassical building close to the Acropolis Museum. It offers charming rooms with free Wi-Fi and eco-friendly mattresses.
Herodion Hotel offers elegant rooms next to the Acropolis and the Acropolis museum. Its rooms offer all the modern amenities you would expect from a 4-star hotel. There is also an on-site restaurant and bar that offers panoramic views of the Acropolis.
5 Star Hotels in Athens
Hilton Athens offers luxurious rooms and suites, the biggest swimming in Athens, and a great rooftop bar with Acropolis views.
St George Lycabettus Hotel is located in upmarket Kolonaki square and offers spacious rooms with breathtaking views of the Acropolis. It is also a very family-friendly hotel.
You can also check my complete guide on where to stay in Athens.
You can easily realize after reading this list that Greece’s capital Athens, has many points of interest. Have you visited Athens Greece? Have you done any of the above? What was your favorite attraction in Athens? Do you have something else to propose? I am more than happy to listen to your reviews and ideas.
The Hadrianic city of Italica
The Tentative Lists of States Parties are published by the World Heritage Centre at its website and/or in working documents in order to ensure transparency, access to information and to facilitate harmonization of Tentative Lists at regional and thematic levels.
The sole responsibility for the content of each Tentative List lies with the State Party concerned. The publication of the Tentative Lists does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the World Heritage Committee or of the World Heritage Centre or of the Secretariat of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its boundaries.
Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party
The property being proposed for inclusion on Spain’s Tentative List is an ex novo sector of the Roman city of Italica, referring to an urban planning project dating back to Hadrian’s era. This project significantly extended the limits of the city and completely changed its urban space. This autonomous sector of Italica is located in the northern area of the site, declared a Property of Cultural Interest and administered as an Archaeological Ensemble by the Regional Government of Andalusia. The settlement is located in the municipality of Santiponce, 9 kilometres northwest of Seville.
The origins of Italica date back to the Second Punic War. After the Battle of Ilipa, in 206 BC, Publius Cornelius Scipio built homes for the veterans of this conflict on a promontory on the right banck of the Guadalquivir River, where a Turdetanian settlement had already been established. He called it Italica, in reference to the place of origin of the new settlers. This city was the first permanent Roman settlement founded on the Iberian Peninsula. From this prominent position, it played a major role in the Romanisation of the Guadalquivir Valley.
This urban centre of the Baetica flourished during the reign of the Emperors Trajan, born in Italica, and, particularly Hadrian, whose family was from Italica. During the 2nd century, this site experienced a radical transformation, with the area it originally covered increasing fourfold. In 1960, Antonio García y Bellido called this Nova Urbs extension, the ‘’new city‘’ It was also in the 2nd century that Italica acquired the status of colony. This new situation involved changing the title of the city, which went on to be called Colonia Aelia Augusta Italicensium. Italica was affected by the crisis during the 3rd century, as were many other parts of the Empire. After just over one hundred years, the urban expansion of Hadrian’s time was practically abandoned. The late Roman population retreated south and enclosed its perimeter in the north with a new wall. The urban planning carried out by Hadrian in this area of the Nova Urbs (the new city) was not rebuilt or occupied at a later date.
The last episodes in the life of Italica are documented in the Middle Ages. The site, which is much smaller now, was called Taliqa by the Muslims. This medieval occupation is located in the southern area of the archaeological site. No further buildings were constructed after the Roman period in the urban area forming the subject matter of this proposal, therefore, the original layout designed by Hadrian was never changed. During the 14th century, very close to the archaeological site of Italica, the Monastery of San Isidoro del Campo was founded and this property included the abandoned Roman plot. In 1603, the Guadalquivir flooded, prompting the town of Santiponce to move its location from the area of Isla de La Cartuja (Island of the Carthusians) to its existing location. This is where the area of the Santiponce hamlet and the southern area of Italica began to come together. The northern area remained as a large plot of agricultural land, which falls within the proposed area.
The recovery and historical study of Italica began during the Renaissance. Thereafter, scholars, artists, poets and travellers started visiting the site, with the aim of discovering the ruins of a major city, whose amphitheatre was testament to its Roman past. During the 17th century, the work of scholars suchas Rodrigo Caro enabled the groundwork for the “archaeological investigation” of the site to be laid, by comparing the remains that were discovered in an area known as Sevilla la Vieja (Old Seville) with references about Italica in written accounts from the classical period, inspired by the fact that Italica was the homeland of the Emperors Trajan and Hadrian. Since then, the knowledge and archaeological recovery of this property have been presided by its consideration as an exceptional testimony to Roman history. The long-term research conducted here has made it a vitally important site in classical archaeology at a national and international level.
The historical value of this ancient city and the absolute certainty of its vestiges have been eulogised in a literary production and represented in a graphic repertoire, which began with the first signs of interest in studying the site during the 16th century. From then on, written in a mixture of verse and prose, the ruins of Italica have been a metaphor and a space for reflecting on the passage of time, the meaning of life, beauty and death. The vast amount of graphic writings about Italica, illustrates, with images of all sorts and from various perspectives, the gradual recovery of the remains of the ancient Roman colony. It also illustrates how this archaeological site has lured visitors since its early years.
The site proposed for inclusion on Spain’s World Heritage Tentative List, consists of an urban planning project designed during the Hadrianic period, which extended the boundaries of the city of Italica northwards, ex novo, in the way of a Nova Urbs, a new city, as occurred in Athens. To do so, 38 hectares of land adjoining the pre-existing village were occupied. This was a plot of land without any buildings, with hills and streambeds, which were incorporated into the design of the new urban layout. Most of this sector dating back to the 2nd century can be extensively identified, and in great detail, within the Archaeological Ensemble of Italica, a space open to visitors and managed by the regional government. Another is located in a rustic area situated to the west of the preceding area. Both sectors are located in the area declared Property of Cultural Interest.
The section of roads preserved in the area of the site that can be visited creates an urban environment in which the main elements of a well-planned city can be felt, when culture was at its height during the Roman Empire, which reflects the urban landscape of the Hadrianic period in an outstanding and universal manner and which would have been designed by the Emperor himself.
The perimeter of this northern area of Italica was defined on three of its sides with a walled enclosure. To the south, the new enclosure would join what until then had marked the outline of the town, although we are not archaeologically aware of this connection. Inside the walls, the Hadrianic sector of Italica is orthogonal in shape, organised around wide avenues delimiting plots on which there are various types of buildings with different functions. Undoubtedly, one of the most characteristic elements of the Hadrianic Italica is its avenues. The roads are paved with polygonal slabs of stone separated from the pavements by a kerb. This pedestrian area was porticoed. If both the pavement and roadways are taken into account, the roads in Italica are around 16 metres wide. This width differentiates this city, in the province of Baetica, from many other urban centres, particularly those located in the western area of the Empire.
The plots in the Hadrianic city of Italica were not uniform. The larger plots were used to accommodate public buildings, strategically located in accordance with imperial ideology that sought to create a set design within the metropolitan area. This is the case with the Traianeum, a large religious complex built in a prominent position in the urban centre. These aspects led to the building being considered an urban and ideological landmark, which marked the entire urban development in the Hadrianic sector.
The Traianeum occupies a single, very imposing plot and, although it is well-preserved in terms of foundations, the original magnitude of the building is evident in the preserved structural ruins and sculptural remains. It is a temple dedicated to Trajan, located in the centre of a large porticoed square that was decorated with statues. Three of the sides of this portico had alternating rectangular and semicircular exedras around its exterior. These apses projected towards the exterior of a mighty wall enclosing the perimeter of the religious complex.
Polychrome marbles from various parts of the Empire were used in the construction of the Traianeum. Some were obtained from areas near to Italica, but others were brought from imperial quarries located in its western and eastern provinces. The architectural decoration of this building and the construction materials used include elements that coincide, in terms of style, typology and the presence of certain traces of masonry, with materials from other buildings that were projects commissioned directly by Hadrian, such as Hadrian’s Villa (Tivoli, Italy) (included on the World Heritage List – hereinafter referred to as WHL – in 1999) and the Baths of Neptune in Ostia (Italy). These details therefore reveal the involvement in the Traianeum project of both the Emperor and the imperial workshops made up of teams of highly qualified artisans working on the projects commissioned by Hadrian. The components of these teams contrast in terms of manufacture with others attributed to the intervention of local workshops. Finally, there is epigraphic material regarding this religious complex, indicating that members of the local elite had statues dedicated to them, which were placed in this building to honour various Augustan deities.
From a formal point of view, the layout of this place of worship is based on Roman architectural models, to which elements were added, which renewed the original source of inspiration, creating a unique design. The most direct parallel for the Traianeum is located in Hadrian’s Library in Athens. Both coincide in that their porticoes are designed in alternating semi-circular and rectangular exedras their enclosures are of a similar size and polychrome marble obtained from various locations was used to build them. However, they differ in their configuration and architectural design, as well as in their function. In Athens, the centre of the portico is not occupied by a colossal temple, as in Italica. Instead, the buildings were mostly to be found on the lower side opposite the main entrance, following outlines more closely related to former public Roman architecture, such as the Flavian Templum Pacis in Rome (included on the WHL in 1980). The arrangement of Italica’s Traianeum is therefore original and may have served as a model for the subsequent construction of temples of worship, such as the Hadrianeum in Imperial Rome (currently Piazza di Pietra). Furthermore, very recent research has enabled the Traianeum portico to be reviewed. This research revealed that the rectangular exedras are larger than originally thought. This breaks the linearity and harmony of the complex by alternating different exedras in the layout, although they were the same size. This information also distinguishes Italica’s Traianeum portico from that of Hadrian’s Library in Athens.
Termas Mayores (Large Baths)
Another public building in 2nd century Italica was an area with thermal baths and a palestra. Covering an area of more than 32,000 m2 it is the largest architectural complex of Hadrian’s urban infrastructure and the largest thermal complex of all those documented in Hispania, coinciding with the design of imperial thermal baths. The archaeological work conducted at the end of the 19th century and further work carried out in the middle of the 20th century only disinterred part of the space known as Termas Mayores (Large Baths), to distinguish it from the so-called Termas Menores (Small Baths) located in the southern part of the site dating back to Trajan’s time as emperor.
Only the entrance to these public baths in the Hadrianic city has been excavated, together with some rooms in the bathing area and some service rooms and galleries. However, this only represented part of a larger building that continued to the south with a huge palestra. This second space, documented by geophysical techniques, consists of a central diaphanous palestra, delimited by a portico with exedras following a similar design to that of the Traianeum, and the aforementioned Hadrian’s Library in Athens. However, the design of the palestra resembles a model of Greco-Hellenistic gymnasiums, but of colossal dimensions. Likewise, both the architectural model and the use of marble from imperial quarries, associate Italica’s baths with the Traianeum and with Hadrian’s Library in Athens. These factors yet again suggest Hadrian’s involvement as the developer in its construction.
Apart from the connection with the Greco-Hellenistic world by applying the thermal baths-gymnasium model often found in eastern Mediterranean cities, there are also elements of these baths in Italica that are present in Roman bath buildings in North Africa. Finally, the mixture of tradition and innovation in architecture, so characteristic during Hadrian’s reign, can be seen in the elements borrowed from the architecture of Pompeii and used in the Large Baths.
In the construction of the thermal bath-gymnasium complex in Italica, there was a desire to promote the use and the customs typical of these types of buildings in the Greco-Hellenistic world: a place for everyday use, that was not limited to bathing and hygiene, but also a space for practicing and teaching sports, for establishing social relationships and promoting education and culture which, during Hadrian’s time, clearly takes us back to the East, to an endeavour to merge tradition/innovation and imperial globalisation (West/East), which was particularly embodied during Hadrian’s reign.
Among other purposes, in Hadrianic Italica, the smaller plots were reserved for private residences. Normally, two large mansions were built in each insula. The size and wealth of each domus illustrates that these residences belonged to the political and economic elite of Italica, which to a large extent would have belonged to the senatorial order. As indicated by Professor Fabrizio Pesando (University of Naples L’Orientale), a prominent specialist in domestic Roman architecture: “Houses excavated in the Nova Urbs (of Italica) are relevant in size, comparable only with those of the largest Pompeii domūs of the 2nd century BC and some sectors are inspired in the great Hellenistic and Roman residential architecture.”
Only some the houses that would have occupied the northern area of the city have been excavated. Particularly noteworthy, as the full extent is known, is the Casa de Los Pájaros (House of the Birds). This domus, which covered an area of approximately 1700 m2, is not one of the largest in the sector. It is a house with a porticoed patio, and, along with other residences in the same area, it had commercial premises at the front there was also a triple entrance leading on to a small hallway enclosed by a curved wall. It also coincides with other houses in the manner in which the mosaic floor tiles were reserved for the bedroom and reception room. The living room or exedra is what gives the building its name, with its bird mosaics, this main central room is flanked by two smaller rooms, following a pattern “which is a similar to that of the main peristyle in the Vergina Palace and, hypothetically, the peristyle in the Royal Palace at Pella. A similar solution is finally documented along the west side of the main peristyle of the Palace of the Columns at Ptolemais” (F. Pesando). The solution adopted in the House of the Birds in Italica in its triclinium flanked by two small pseudo-peristyles, identified as oecus Cyzicenus, also resembles the Palace of Ptolemais and, particularly, Domitian’s massive imperial Palace on the Palatine Hill in Rome (known as the cenatio Iovis, which was the Emperor’s dining room).
The extensive repertoire of mosaics from Hadrianic sector is one of Italica’s distinguishing features. The design illustrates the intervention of local or provincial workshops which, using techniques and styles from the models of the metropolis, created a unique style widely used in the Guadalquivir Valley. They is also an exceptional representation of opus sectile, with a wealth of enormous marbles, as illustrated in the Casa de la Exedra (House of the Exedra), (covering an area of around 4000 m2), which is one of the most luxurious residences in the Hadrianic complex, occupying an entire plot. Particularly noteworthy is the triclinium/ nymphaeum, which gives the house its name, in association with an ambulatio, which reproduces a smaller version of the “Canopus” of Hadrian’s Villa, in the tradition of the architecture of the two large imperial palaces on the Italian Peninsula.
Together with the domestic residences, there are other very large buildings with a great variety of features. Although they have been interpreted as being the homes of rich owners, they have also been considered to be semi-public buildings that were the venue for guilds or professional associations using their spaces for meetings or other functions. In this case, it is the House of Neptune, which is a municipal complex, known to have had a thermal bath area and some grand halls. This building has a series of mosaics with technical characteristics and decorative motifs that are similar to the floor tiles found in the Baths of Neptune in Ostia. Likewise, on the floors of this building, but also in those of the House of the Exedra, there are mosaics with Nilotic motifs, which are very typical of the period and which reproduce exotic features and elements inherent to the eastern region of the Empire.
Water supply and sewage system
The natural topography of the land was key when installing the elements that formed the complex water supply and sewage system that ran through this city during Hadrian’s reign. On an elevated position, next to the northwest corner of the walled enclosure and inside the town, a large water tank was built. This deposit was a final castellum aquae (water distribution station) of an aqueduct also built by Hadrian and which, after a 30 km journey, brought water to the new urbanisation of Italica from the north of what is now the province of Huelva (Fuentes de Tejada). From this tank, the water reached the buildings in the area and the public fountains located at the crossroads of some streets. It ran through lead pipes, such as those found bearing the seal of the city C•A•A•I• (Colonia Aelia Augusta Italicensium), or that of the Emperor, IMP•C•H•A• (Imperatoris Caesari Hadriani Augusti), which certified that the work had been financed by the same emperor.
Surplus water was channelled via a drainage system underneath the roads. At some crossroads there were manholes, which could be accessed to carry out maintenance tasks. Some of these wells and a drainage point below the north gate of the walled enclosure are still visible in the Archaeological Ensemble of Italica. The drain network ended up draining water into collectors located on the two streambeds that defined the north and south contours of the new urbanisation.
Outside the city, approximately 300 metres from the northern door, is the amphitheatre. This is Italica’s most emblematic building in terms of size and for having been the indicator marking the presence of this Roman city in the territory throughout history. Although it has been affected by pillaging in the past, the work carried out since the 19th century has enabled a large part of the configuration of this building to be identified a building used for events and which was one of the largest in the Empire, after the Italian amphitheatres of Rome (the Colosseum), Capua and Pozzuoli. It could accommodate almost double the population of the city of Italica even during its busiest period. The amphitheatre was built into a streambed that had to be channelled. It has an oval shape and the structure of the building is opus caementicium, reinforced with stone or brick ashlars and covered with marble.
The first level of seating terraces still remains and part of the second, with the third row somewhat more deteriorated. The sheer size of the fossa bestiaria can still be seen in the arena. In this underground area, which was covered with decking, the marks of cages of the animals that took part in the shows can still be seen on the brick floor. Regarding the accesses to Italica’s colosseum, more details are known about the main entrances those known as triumphalis -to the east- and porta libitinensis -to the west. In the corridor of the first of these, close to the arena, was a place of worship dedicated to Dea Caelestis. After the temple of Carthage (Tunisia) included on the WHL in 1979), this is the largest temple dedicated to this goddess and the only one of its kind located in an amphitheatre. Various ex voto inscriptions have been located in association with the temple at Italica, dedicated to Nemesis, the goddess of revenge and divine retribution. Likewise, game boards and other engraved motifs have been preserved in this corridor’s paving stones, indicating the passage of people and the use of this place, which was the main entrance to the amphitheatre.
The ambitious Hadrianic project did not last long. Barely a century after it was first used, a large part of this urban sector was already abandoned.
The geophysical surveys carried out in the unexcavated areas in this space revealed that, although streets and sewage networks were designed, some plots were never occupied by any properties. Other areas were never even urbanised. These geophysical techniques have enabled a wall from a later date to be identified, which would have marked the new outline of the city nearer the 4th century AD. The Traianeum was located within this urban perimeter, the building of imperial cult that marked the central point and established the urban landscape of the Hadrianic sector of Italica.
This abandonment and the subsequent non-occupation of the area resulted in the ex novo Hadrianic urban landscape configured in the Hadrianic city of Italica, in the Nova Urbs of the new colony of Italica, being preserved without subsequent alterations. Therefore, its archaeological recovery since the 19th century to date (by means of excavations or geophysical surveys) offers reliable and vast knowledge of the Hadrianic urban development projects, with its large public and private buildings and all of its associated infrastructure.
The proposal for the inclusion of “THE HADRIANIC CITY OF ITALICA” on Spain’s World Heritage Tentative List, includes a buffer zone. This zone, which houses other sectors of the archaeological site that help to explain the establishment of the city in the territory and to define the entity of the urban settlement of Italica, both during Hadrian’s reign and during other moments in history, is included in the area declared Property of Cultural Interest.
To the south, the buffer zone coincides with a part of the archaeological site located to a large extent below the town centre of Santiponce. The entire historical process of Italica’s occupation is documented therein. The population resided in this southern part of the ancient city, which coexisted with the Hadrianic area of expansion. Interventions dating back to the Hadrianic period have been documented in this area, although they are no clear examples of urban development projects that have been studied in depth, as is the case with the north sector or Nova Urbs. Of particular note among these is the area of the theatre, built during the Augustan-Tiberian period. It consists of an Iseum erected in the portico also, two milestones with corbels bearing the name of the emperor and which are related to the new road that led to Merida, built by Hadrian. In addition to this, there are new angles of research resulting from the knowledge, still in the very early stages, of a large property, similar in size to the Traianeum, which occupied the top of the hill on which the building housing events is located.
The eastern area of the perimeter that surrounds the property forming the subject matter of this proposal, also coincides with an archaeological sector located on the urban land of Santiponce. It is in this pastureland area, to the east of the Hadrianic urban infrastructure, where a necropolis would have been located, covering various periods of Italica’s history, and where the road, to which the milestones found in the area of the theatre would refer, would have run.
Finally, the north and west flanks of the buffer zone refer, on the one hand, to a green area without any archaeological remains, which delimits the visitable area of the city, in both environmental and landscape terms, within the Archaeological Ensemble of Italica. On the other hand, a rustic area, located in the western part of the municipality of Santiponce. From a historical perspective, these areas are connection points for the old town with the countryside and with its catchment area. This was where Italica merged with the agricultural land of the Gerena Depression, the mines of Sierra Morena and, particularly, the Campo de Tejada. The latter is where the water catchment area from a branch pipe from the Italica aqueduct constructed during Hadrian’s reign was located, to increase the flow rate and to effectively supply the city, as mentioned previously.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The fact that it is the homeland of Trajan and Hadrian is a fundamental part of the universal nature of Italica. The two Emperors represented a time of maximum territorial expansion when Roman culture and prosperity were thriving. These two rulers transformed an empire that opened up to the multicultural reality of the provinces that formed part of it and made diversity one of their distinguishing features. Traces of the Roman legacy are very present in Western culture, with this heritage being one of its essential pillars.
Italica is unique among the series of towns that were subject to the lavish urban initiatives carried out by Hadrian. The remains of this city preserved in the northern area of the site are a leading reference for discovering the ideological bases and effects of an action strategy that enabled territories to be integrated, cultural relationships to be established, knowledge to be exchanged, while also disseminating and maintaining the values on which Rome was based during the 2nd century. The case of Italica is an exceptional illustration of Hadrian’s muniticence construction policies in the cities of the Empire. This was not only implemented via architectural projects and civic works in city centres, but also by establishing new colonies and through the large-scale renovation of existing ones.
In this regard, Italica is outstanding, as it is the only city in the Western Mediterranean with a strictly ex novo Hadrianic urban planning project, widely known in architectural terms and without any subsequent determining alterations, due to the early abandonment of this urban sector. In fact, unlike other towns that were also had imperial backing, the city of Italica was an initiative carried out in an area without any buildings and, therefore, without any conditioning factors, as was the case with interventions in previously urbanised areas. This advantage enabled a city model to be designed, in line with the architectural, aesthetic and ideological standards of the period.
The newly built area was an ambitious project which established a new sector of the city that was as complete as it was vast, which could be interpreted as the new Italica, in accordance with its transformation from a town into a Roman colony, a status granted to it by Hadrian.
The complete preservation of the entire urban development, the spatial scope of the project and the diversity of its components make Italica the finest and most illustrative universal example of the concept of urban space during the Hadrianic period.
From a formal point of view, the scope of the Hadrianic Italica is coherent with the monumental scale of its public buildings, with the width its the avenues, with the size of its private residences and with it sophisticated water treatment and sewage system. This harmonious scale is a feature that identifies Italica and which differentiates it from other cities in which Hadrian also carried out projects. In these cases, as they were mainly areas that were already inhabited, they consisted of isolated interventions, or diverse projects distributed across the city, but which needed to be adapted to the available space and introduced into the pre-existing urban layout.
The Hadrianic sector of Italica is unique because of the explicit legibility of its urban planning layout, in which properties are interspersed in the grids that form the roads like a drawing on a map. The image of Italica as a map is one of the distinguishing features of this site, in which the diversity of the elements takes precedence over its vertical preservation. The urban environment created by its road network enables the main components of a city designed during the Hadrianic period to be recognised. There is also a vast archaeological reserve area still to be excavated. An initial assessment regarding its historical potential has been conducted in relation to the function of specific elements, according to the data provided by geophysical studies.
Hadrian was directly involved in the change of image and urban scale of Italica at the beginning of the 2nd century. The presence of the Emperor’s seals on some water supply infrastructures the external origin of some of the construction materials which also came from quarries owned by the Emperor and used in public buildings some masonry marks and the high technical quality of some elements, together with the architectural models that coincide with other imperial buildings, confirm the testimonies included in ancient written sources about the generosity of the Emperor with his hometown. Likewise, it is important to remember that Hadrian was named quinquennial duumvir in Italica. Although he would hold this office in absentia, much of his generosity to his hometown may also be related to his local magistracy.
Second-century Italica was neither a provincial capital nor a legal community, but the homeland of Hadrian and the birthplace of Trajan, his predecessor and adoptive father. Italica also has additional features that make it stand out from other cities, such as being the oldest Roman city on the Iberian Peninsula, having been founded by Scipio during the Punic Wars and having played a fundamental role in the Romanisation of the Guadalquivir Valley.
The Hadrianic sector of Italica integrates the natural lie of the land with the design of its urban form and, above all, creates a setting with great symbolic value. The spatial scope of the building project and the sound archaeological knowledge of the sector enable us to interpret a space in which everything had been meticulously planned. In this regard, the Traianeum’s central position within the ensemble, its location on a prominent point and its dynastic value as a temple of the imperial cult, identify this building as the landmark that established the urban infrastructure of the northern area. This was the most prominent and outstanding part of The Hadrianic city of Italica, since it was not only the place that represented imperial power and the start of the new “Hispanic” dynasty with Trajan but also the ideal point to disseminate Roman values and to foster the local community’s allegiance to the Emperor.
Trajan was worshipped in Italica’s Traianeum.
However, there was a special reason that made this place of worship in Italica different to others also dedicated to the same emperor located throughout the Empire: the one in Italica was located in the birthplace of Trajan. With this temple, Hadrian not only paid tribute to his adoptive father, but also reinforced the bonds between the imperial family and the provincial communities right in the place that was his own homeland. The special meaning of this temple and its value as a central and organisational element of the new urban infrastructure indicate its consideration as a city dedicated to Trajan. If a basilica was dedicated to Trajan’s wife, the Empress Plotina, after her death in her birthplace Nemausus (today Nimes), and an entire city, Antinoopolis, to his favourite Antinous, in the place where he died, Hadrian paid tribute to Divus Traianus, his adoptive father, in the place in which he had been born. The only comparison would be the Traianeum dedicated to Trajan and to Plotina in Rome, built by Hadrian at the top of the Forum of Trajan, close to the urn containing the ashes of the Optimus Princeps in the basement of the Trajan’s Column.
Furthermore, the thermal baths with the palestra built during the Hadrianic period were not just an everyday place for bathing and hygiene purposes or a place for practicing sports. The imperial promotion of this building went hand in glove with the desire to promote the educational and cultural values of the thermal baths-gymnasium of the cities of the Eastern provinces. Likewise, the amphitheatre was designed not only to congregate the local population, but also those from other parts. Apart from being a place for staging events and socialising, it also served as a propaganda space and a place of imperial worship and as a driving force behind the local economy.
In relation to the private aspects, the houses, designed around vestibules and porticoed patios, with their triclinia and other large rooms with mosaic floors, are testament to the lifestyle of part of the population – the political and economic elite - that followed the trends and social customs inherent to Rome and the Empire.
The imperial scale of the public buildings in Italica during the 2nd century is exceptional in all the provinces of the Roman West. They are also unique pieces forming part of Hadrian’s monumental architecture. The Traianeum and the palestra in the Major Baths are unique representations. The layout of these buildings is similar to that of another similar and essential building, such as Hadrian’s Library in Athens, based on the former imperial architecture and Greco-Hellenistic periods. The two buildings in Italica, plus the amphitheatre, are exceptional examples that illustrate the defining features of the monumental architecture of the Hadrianic period. They also reflect tradition and innovation, local and external influences, beauty and passion, together with the Emperor’s desire for self-glorification. The Traianeum temple, in the centre of a porticoed square, surrounded by over one hundred columns, may have served as a model for subsequent buildings, specifically for the Hadrianeum in Rome.
The domestic architecture of the houses with porticoed courtyards, the construction and decorative styles of the period, which coincide to a certain degree with imperial palace architecture, particularly Hadrian’s Villa, and are modelled on Greco-Hellenistic architecture. The mosaics with styles imported from the metropolis and exotic motifs inspired by the Eastern Roman Empire, are proof of this. However, the series of mosaics in Italica, also include pieces that reveal the creation of a distinctive, personal style, which would be continued and become common in Hispania Baetica.
The construction of the Nova Urbs not only changed the scale and appearance of Italica, but also the essence of the actual city, which became an outpost of a Rome that was broadening its horizons. The town-planning and architecture of Hadrian’s city reflect the arrival of new materials and construction designs, new urban approaches, together with new technical knowledge and decorative styles.
The historical meaning and exceptional nature of the architectural ensemble preserved in the northern area of Italica distinguish this place as an outstanding heritage site in the urban-development context of the Roman Empire. The extensive period of study and archaeological recovery of evidence accumulated in this site have made it an international benchmark in classic archaeology.
In turn, the protection initiatives implemented in The Hadrianic city of Italica over the past century have allowed this outdoor site to be opened to the public, where, along with the archaeological vestiges, the signs of the restoration work carried out over time are treasured as part of the site’s history. This protection mechanism has enabled the preservation of a site that is an outstanding example of a Rome that extended its cultural horizons by looking to the territories within its frontiers.
Criterion (ii): The town-planning and architecture of the Hadrianic sector of Italica, are exceptional examples of the interchange of ideas and values that broadened relationships between the populations of the Mediterranean world when the cultural splendour of the Roman Empire was at its peak. During the 2nd century, Italica was the receiving point for innovations and technical knowledge. Italica welcomed architectural designs, diverse construction materials from abroad, unused in the area on such a large scale, highly skilled labour, greatly refined artisanal practices, decorative styles typical of the metropolis and the cities of the eastern reaches of the Empire and also urban planning design that contrasted with those normally used in the cities of the Western Roman Empire.
Criterion (iv): Italica is an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble that illustrates, in an exceptional manner, the concept of urban space and the defining features of architecture during Hadrian’s reign.
The urban planning project that changed the image and urban scale of Italica during the 2nd century benefited from being an ex novo initiative, which covered a vast area of land in which an urban design was created with a powerful symbolic meaning, in which each element fulfilled a specific function. The variety of elements - walls, roads, water supply and sewage systems, the temple of the imperial cult, thermal baths with palestra, large private residences and/ or semi-public buildings, an amphitheatre - and the comprehensive preservation of the urban development layout, enable the underlying concept of urban space of Hadrian’s project to be known. Furthermore, theTraianeum, the Major Baths with a palestra and the amphitheatre are outstanding examples of their kind, which also illustrate the defining features of Hadrian’s monumental architecture. These reveal, among other aspects, tradition that is reformed and renewed to give way to innovation the combination of local materials with the introduction of materials, styles and construction forms that differed from the traditions of Rome, which illustrate the universal nature of Hadrian’s political and cultural project the importance of the beauty and spectacular nature of the architectural work, as well as the fact that this project was the Emperor’s own design.
Criterion (vi): Italica was the homeland of Trajan and Hadrian, two of the most important Roman emperors responsible for the largest territorial and cultural expansion of an empire that is one of the fundamental pillars of Western culture.
Trajan, born in the city of Italica, was the first provincial emperor. With Trajan, Rome reached its greatest territorial extent, in an area very close to what is now Europe. Trajan was recently honoured in Rome with the exhibition “Traiano, costruire l’Imperio, creare l’Europa”. As indicated by the organisers, his administration tried to “include” the populations submitted “under a single State that was governed with laws that still exist today in modern jurisprudence”. Trajan’s work as a ruler, often referred to as the “Father of Europe”, was so prominent that he was officially declared by the Senate Optimus Princeps. Hadrian, whose family was originally from Italica, succeeded Trajan, his adoptive father. Although he was an excellent soldier, he was an educated emperor, traveller and cosmopolitan, who promoted the prosperity and well-being of the Empire through the cultural integration of its provinces.
With the two emperors from Italica, Rome was transformed, it opened up to its territories, integrating them, and made diversity a hallmark of its own personality. The influence of the Roman legacy in the formation of Western culture is essential and traces thereof are still very present in today’s world.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
Pursuant to the provisions set forth in paragraphs 79 to 86 of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention and the Nara Document on Authenticity, the conditions of authenticity must be duly present in the proposal and the cultural value shall be reliable and credible via its various attributes.
The Hadrianic city has preserved its characteristic structure and design, since its layout, together with the significant remains of its original structures and the interventions carried out on these have been limited to guaranteeing their preservation, without introducing substantial changes that would distort their tangible authenticity, thus including the authenticity of materials and substance. And as a visitable archaeological site, its use and function have been preserved since it was first opened to the public.
The research carried out in Italica is conclusive and unanimous in terms of the attribution of the monuments to the aforementioned period and it illustrates the authenticity of its chronology. The same applies to the authenticity of the architectural styles which they are displayed, since their authenticity has been determined by scientific criteria.
Interest in the study of Italica began in the 16th century and, since then, there have been many testimonies confirming that the remains located in the area then known as Sevilla la Vieja were the remains of the Roman city of Italica. In this regard, the identification of the archaeological site with a specific historical association has been accredited.
Regarding the association of an area of the city of Italica - the north sector - with a specific moment in its history - Hadrian’s reign - it should be noted that the bases for the archaeological investigation of the site established in the 17th century have been extended and reinforced with subsequent fruitful research. This situation is paradigmatic in the case of the Hadrianic phase, which is doubtless the most documented of the protracted life of this ancient city centre. The important area of land revealed by the archaeological excavations in the northern part of the site and the data obtained from the geophysical analyses have enabled the urban infrastructure of this sector during the Hadrianic period to be dated. Likewise, the documentation of certain architectural patterns, construction materials, decorative styles and the presence of the Emperor’s name on some elements, are first-hand testimonies that prove Hadrian’s direct intervention in the development of Italica. The foregoing coincides with the references in the ancient written sources to the favours that the Emperor bestowed on his homeland and on the Baetica province.
In short, the tangibility and chronology of the archaeological remains of the Hadrianic city, are reliable proof of the authenticity of the property intended for inclusion on Spain’s World Heritage Tentative List.
In addition to the foregoing, most of the area included in this proposal is located outdoors and open to the public – the Archaeological Ensemble of Italica. The current situation of the site is the result of a long period of research that has enabled a large part of the urban structure of the area urbanised in the 2nd century to be recovered and the ephemeral nature of the occupation of this part of the Roman city to be discovered. This recovery has been accompanied by consolidation and restoration works on the archaeological remains. The traces of these interventions can be interpreted from a historiographical perspective, as they are present on many of the properties that can be seen when visiting the site.
The amphitheatre is a fine example of this. After the initial recovery work and archaeological studies conducted on this building at the end of the 19th century, the preservation works began. As a result of the gradual recovery of the property, the first consolidation solutions were applied at the beginning of the 20th century, which continued with the restoration interventions mid-century and the works carried out in the seventies and eighties. The conservation work on the amphitheatre has continued with subsequent interventions that have combined conservation with museology and interpretation of the spaces in which work has been carried out.
If the amphitheatre is a key point in the preservation of Italica, the mosaics and the houses in this city built during the Hadrianic period are further key aspects in this regard.
The preservation of the private residences and, particularly, their floors, have been given priority in the preservation works carried out. Since Italica’s mosaics were first unearthed, the array of solutions applied has enabled a varied repertoire of this fragile type of floor tile to be admired when visiting the site. Given the decorative wealth, technical quality and size of some of them, the mosaics are one of Italica’s emblems.
The conservation of not only these tiles, but also those of the entire property in which they are located, are two fundamental values that have led to the recovery of two of the most well-known houses in the northern area of Italica: the House of the Birds and the House of the Planetarium. From different intervention criteria, these two private residences allow visitors to gain a better understanding of both the spatial structure of the house and its different uses.
The property “THE HADRIANIC CITY OF ITALICA” covers a sector located in the northern part of the Roman city, consisting of an ex novo urban planning project dating back to the 2nd century. Since the archaeological remains in the area of the property enable the scope and detail of an urban space designed during Hadrian’s reign to be identified, it possesses all the elements required to express its Outstanding Universal Value and has the appropriate size, which enables the complete representation of the characteristics and the processes that transmit the importance of the property, without showing adverse signs of development or negligent acts.
However, to date, the excavated area in this 2nd century urban infrastructure only represents part of the original ensemble. A significant area of this sector is still to be researched. Various geophysical studies have been conducted in this protected area, which have resulted in an initial assessment of the underground archaeological record, providing details regarding the urban organisation of this space and regarding the function of some of its buildings. This resource has also enabled the layout of the streets, yet to be excavated, to be integrated into the visitable area of the site, outlining the layout of the Hadrianic expansion in points where it is not visible and marking the monumental scale of this urban planning project.
Comparison with other similar properties
The important territorial expansion and the cultural scope of Rome resulted in the footprints of this legacy being present on many properties included on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites. The Tentative Lists of States Parties of this international organisation also include properties of this cultural nature.
From a geographical perspective, the Roman Empire’s sphere of action not only focused on the Mediterranean Arc, but also on Central and Western Europe. This means the geographic scope of the comparative study for the proposal “THE HADRIANIC CITY OF ITALICA”, affecting two of the regions in which the UNESCO organises the vast cultural areas forming the World Heritage. On the one hand, it includes the region of Europe-North America. However, the North American sector must be excluded from this area. On the other, it covers the region of the Arab States, although the comparative study is limited to the territory in which vestiges from the Roman Empire have been recorded.
From a typological point of view, the properties from this civilization are included in various categories on which basis the cultural entities declared World Heritage are recorded.
From a thematic perspective, there is also a diversity of elements that cover a wide range of aspects that respond to the multiple facets of this culture.
Quantitatively and qualitatively, the Roman legacy is widely represented among the properties already declared World Heritage Sites. Likewise, there are also examples figuring on the Tentative Lists. There are various types of entities in this representation, which share the space and time of the Roman civilisation. This is a polyhedral ensemble, in which, when comparing the proposal “THE HADRIANIC CITY OF ITALICA” with properties from the same cultural circle, the specific and unique nature of our case must be indicated in values that go beyond the building typology of some of its properties and their inclusion in an urban centre. In this regard, the area of intervention in which Hadrian’s urban planning project is carried out, the symbolic component of the place, and the scope and diversity of the elements that form part of the ensemble, are some of the reasons that justify the outstanding nature of this site nominated for its inclusion on Spain’s World Heritage Tentative List.
The Roman legacy is present in Europe in World Heritage Sites that are living cities. It seems obvious to cite the case of Rome (included on the WHL in 1980, extended in 1990 and with a boundary modification in 2015). However, there are other World Heritage Sites that are also existing cities with a long past, in which the Roman footprint is still present on a larger heritage site. These include Split (Croatia, included on the WHL in 1979), Jerusalem (Israel) (inscribed in 1981), Cordoba (Span) (inscribed in 1984 and extended in 1994), Segovia (Spain) (inscribed in 1985), Istanbul (Turkey) (inscribed in 1985), Evora (Portugal) (inscribed in 1986), Budapest (Hungary) (inscribed in 1987), Bath (Great Britain) (inscribed in 1987),Vicenza (Italy) (inscribed in 1994 and extended in 1996), Lyon (France) (inscribed in 1998), Verona (Italy) (inscribed in 2000), Regensburg (Germany) (inscribed in 2006) and Bordeaux (France) (inscribed in 2007). Although, to a lesser degree, there are also World Heritage Sites in the Arab States, which are living cities that conserve traces of their ancient past together with buildings from other periods, such as the ancient Syrian cities of Damascus (included on the WHL in 1979), Bosra (since 1980) and Aleppo (since 1986). These examples, which are living cities, have the disadvantage that comes from being superimposed cities. In these, an easily identifiable, specific moment in history - Rome or a specific episode of this period, for example, the Hadrianic period - can generally only be observed in the existence of elements from later periods. In these sites, which are cities with a lengthy development over time, the value focuses mainly on showing the succession of various historical stages. For comparing the property forming the subject matter of this proposal, it is important to indicate that among the sites declared World Heritage, there are only two cases which are living cities in which Hadrian’s urban benefaction initiatives have been recorded. The city of Rome (included on the WHL since 1980, extended in 1990 and with a boundary modification in 2015), as the capital of the Empire, cannot evade the points that were subject to works carried out by Hadrian. These consisted of newly constructed buildings, works that may have started during the reign of his predecessor and which he completed, together with the restoration of pre-existing properties. Of particular note as areas of action are the Campus Martius, where multiple projects of varying degrees were carried out and the area of the imperial fora, where, together with the Senate, he would build a Traianeum in honour of Trajan and Plotina. In general terms, the vestiges of Hadrian’s work in Rome are inserted in the design of an existing city - the Pantheon, for example - or under some historical buildings - the Temple of Trajan – making it impossible to observe the urban area in which they were once integrated. In other cases, they are located in large archaeological areas along with other elements and spaces of the ancient city that form an area with properties from different periods - such as the Temple of Venus and Roma. On the other hand, a visit to Italica enables a series of Hadrianic elements to be recognised in a stretch of road that is an urban planning project dating back to the 2nd century, exclusive to Hadrian’s reign.
Another example of a city with Hadrian’s interventions is Jerusalem (included on the WHL in 1981). Here, Hadrian founded a military colony in the context of the Jewish revolt. He called it Colonia Aelia Capitolina. Written sources from ancient times indicate that this emperor carried out important construction projects in this city. Although part of the configuration of the Roman city and some buildings have been documented, the works that some sources attribute to Hadrian are not known as a result of the continued occupation of the site. In the case of the colony’s forum, this could be located in the area of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Muristan. In Jerusalem, remains from the classical period are barely visible in a city that shares space with structures from other key moments of its history.
In the city of Leidschendam-Voorburg (the Netherlands), there are remains of the Forum Hadriani. Some vestiges of this Roman town, which could be foundations dating from the Hadrianic period, have been identified in the existing town centre. This ancient complex is included in a proposal for a property that includes various sites that formed part of the Roman Empire’s frontier in the Germania Inferior sector (property included on the Tentative Lists of Holland and Germany in 2018).
In turn, the French city of Nimes has various remains of the ancient Nemausus. These include the temple dating back to the Augustan period known as the Maison Carrée and an amphitheatre. Written accounts suggest that Hadrian built a basilica dedicated to Plotina - Trajan’s wife and his adoptive mother - in the location that was her birthplace. This building could be located in the southern area called the Fountain Sanctuary, a building complex dating back to the Augustan period, which would have been a space dedicate to the imperial cult. This Roman complex is now located inside a garden designed during the 18th century. The basilica cited by the sources would have been an element associated with the imperial family, as with the Traianeum in Italica. However, it would represent and isolated intervention by Hadrian in the city of Nemausus. Furthermore, if the remains of that basilica were to be found in the Fountain Sanctuary complex, this element would be a landmark within a site called “Nimes”. These remains and others from different historical periods confirm the value of the site intended to be protected: Nimes (included on France’s List in 2012).
Furthermore, ancient Nicaea is currently the city of Iznik (included on Turkey’s List since 2014). There are testimonies of this city’s Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman past in the city centre. One of the emblems of this place is its walls, built during the Roman period. Ancient written sources attribute this intervention to Hadrian in this complex after an earthquake. He would have rebuilt the walled enclosure and two of its entrances the East Gate (Lefke Kapi) and the North Gate (Istanbul Gate). This enclosed area would have undergone subsequent construction interventions. Despite the walls of the city of Iznik being one of its most representative elements and the construction being carried out during the Roman period, they are not, in themselves, an example comparable with the Hadrianic urban development project in Italica. The remains of the Roman enclosure in this Turkish town, now form part of a living city, with an extensive history.
Finally, there are sites that are existing cities with remains of the Roman legacy that are not included in UNESCO’s catalogues, but which, as they underwent interventions during the Hadrianic period, should be included in the comparative analysis of the site we are studying. This would be the case of Izmir (Turkey), previously Smyrna. This town was one of the urban centres of the Eastern Mediterranean that received most attention from Hadrian, according to ancient sources. In this case, some sources refer to the economic contribution of the local elite to these improvements in the city. In Hadrian’s day, a corn market would have been built, together with a gymnasium and a temple of the imperial cult. The remains of the temple could be those of a building located in the 19th century. It was a very large property, located in a prominent position, but which, after its discovery, was pillaged. Furthermore, traces of other areas of the ancient city have been located beneath the existing town. The agora is particularly noteworthy, a horizontal excavated area open to visitors, which does not date back to Hadrian’s day. The town of Izmir is home to remains and monuments from different historical phases, and it is a site with a long history of occupation. It is therefore not comparable with the Hadrianic sector of Italica.
Lastly, Athens is included in the cities in which important interventions by Hadrian have been recorded. Together with Rome, this was one of the communities in which most construction interventions promoted by Hadrian were recorded. These works consisted in the execution of public works, building new properties, completing building works that had remained unfinished for centuries and renovating pre-existing urban spaces in fact, a gate was built - according to the extant inscription - that led to “Hadrian’s new Athens”, although it is a propaganda or ideological resource, since the area existed before Hadrian’s intervention. Some of the vestiges of Hadrian’s work are located in spaces open to visitors, which are located in the urban centre of Athens as we know it today. However, part of these works is in the buffer zone of the World Heritage Site of the Acropolis in Athens (included on the WHL in 1987). This would be the case with Hadrian’s Library, for example. Others, such as the Temple of Olympian Zeus, are located outside the buffer zone of the Acropolis. These properties constructed by Hadrian and others included in Greco-Roman Athens form part of different moments in the history of this great Eastern Mediterranean city. Particularly relevant for Italica’s specific case is Hadrian’s Library in Athens. This property is one of the most direct parallels for both the Traianeum and for the palestra of the Large Baths. The three examples coincide in that they have porticos with semi-circular and rectangular shaped exedras in alternating positions, although the general configuration of each property is different. Furthermore, this solution can also be found in the architecture of Rome itself, during the Flavian (Templum Pacis) and Augustan period (Porticus Liviae). The Traianeum and the Library in Athens are very similar with respect to the size of their enclosures and in that polychrome marble from various sources was used extensively in their construction. This material was also used in the Large Baths. However, the three examples differ in their function: those in Italica would be used as a temple of the imperial cult and another as a palestra, while the one in Athens has been interpreted in many ways, although it has always been assigned an administrative use (provincial government headquarters), apart from a certain value as a space dedicated to the imperial cult. The connection between the two examples of Italica and that of Athens is clear, and the three are, undoubtedly, testimony to Hadrian’s same policy, which enabled relationships to be established between the different territories of the Empire and the values on which these were based to be preserved. The Traianeum in Italica and Hadrian’s Library in Athens are fine examples of Hadrian’s monumental architecture and of properties with a special meaning in the configuration of cities that were highly valued by the Emperor. Athens in the East and Italica in the West. This architectural style, particularly in Italica, may have served as a model for subsequent Antonine buildings, such as the Hadrianeum in Rome.
Sometimes, World Heritage sites ascribed to the Roman Empire consist of a group of elements or an isolated element located in an existing city centre. These sites represent significant examples of a historical period - the Roman period - or various periods - which would include the Roman period. This is the case with the Spanish archaeological ensembles of Merida and Tarragona (on the WHL since 1993 and 2000, respectively) and the Roman Walls of Lugo and the Tower of Hercules in Corunna (on the WHL since 2000 and 2009, respectively). Other European examples include the Roman and Romanesque monuments of Arles, together with the Roman Theatre - with its surroundings - and the Triumphal Arch of Orange in France (both included on the WHL since 1981) also, the Roman remains and the monuments of Trier (Germany) from a later period (on the WHL since 1986).
It is less common to find these types of World Heritage sites in the region of the Arab States. The amphitheatre of El Jem (Tunisia) (included on the WHL in 1979) is the only example. This building, used for performances, was built during the 3rd century in the city of Thydrus, although its vast seating capacity would have served to accommodate inhabitants from other areas.
In the case of isolated Roman buildings or those accompanied by others located in a living, historic city, the capacity of appreciation of a space or an architectural ensemble of a specific phase is limited, with the only protected cultural landmark being the one that illustrates a specific stage or moment in the life of the town and also, the building typology.
In this particular case, it is important to cite the Archaeological Ensemble of Tarragona (on the WHL since 2000). This serial site is located in a space dedicated to the imperial cult of Augustus, which was built during the 1st century during the reign of Augustus’ successor Tiberius, although it underwent a considerable transformation under the Flavian Dynasty, associated with a lower terrace and the circus. Ancient written sources indicate that Hadrian restored the temple. The archaeological documentation regarding this religious complex is partial as it is located on a site now occupied by Tarragona Cathedral. In turn, the other elements included in the archaeological ensemble of Tarragona forming part of the World Heritage Site are also dispersed around the existing city and the surrounding area, and it also corresponds to different moments of the Roman phase. All of them can be dated between the 3rd century BC and late antiquity. Hadrian’s interventions in the temple of Tarraco mentioned in the literature, are not comparable with Italica, neither in terms of the degree of archaeological knowledge of the religious space, nor in terms of being recognisable within an urban complex from the Hadrianic period.
The city of Durres in Albania is home to the remains of a Roman amphitheatre (on Albania’s TL since 1996). Durres was previously called Dyrrachium. There are numerous remains of the Roman city in this town, including the amphitheatre. It was built during the 1st century and was in use until late antiquity, before a Byzantine chapel was built on the site. Together with this amphitheatre, other Roman buildings have been found, such as a section of an aqueduct. The epigraphical sources indicate that Hadrian built an aqueduct in this Balkan city. However, the property included on the Tentative List is the amphitheatre.
Given the inability to prove an urban reality of a specific phase of the properties located in a living city, those that are archaeological sites that correspond to the sites of ancient cities - now, dead cities – paint a very different picture. Cities that were occupied during the Roman Empire and which form part of the European region’s World Heritage include Hierapolis (Turkey) (included on the WHL in 1988), Buthrotum (Albania) (inscribed in 1992, extended in 1999 and with a boundary modification in 2007), Pompeii and Herculaneum (Italy) (inscribed in 1997), Ilium (ancient Troy, in Turkey) (inscribed in 1998), Aquileia (Italy) (inscribed in 1998 and with a boundary modification in 2017 and 2018), Syracuse (Italy) (inscribed in 2005), Pergamon (Turkey) (inscribed in 2014), Ephesus (Turkey) (inscribed in 2015), Filippos (Greece) (inscribed in 2016) and Aphrodisias (Turkey) (inscribed in 2017).
In the region of the Arab States, there are also World Heritage Sites that formed part of the Roman Empire, such as Carthage (Tunisia) (included on the WHL in 1979) Palmyra (Syrian Arab Republic) (inscribed in 1980) Leptis Magna, Sabratha and Cyrene (the three in Libya and inscribed in 1982) Djémila, Tipasa and Timgad (in Algeria and inscribed in 1982) Baalbek, Byblos and Tyre (in Lebanon and inscribed in 1984) Petra (Jordan) (inscribed in 1985) Dougga (Tunisia) (inscribed in 1997) Volubilis (Morocco) (inscribed in 1997), and Umm ar-Rasas (Jordan) (inscribed in 2004).
In archaeological sites including ancient towns that are now considered dead cities, it is possible to recognise the extent of the layout and the urban components of a town. On the long list of places declared World Heritage Sites, there are incomparable and prominent sites such as Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy (included on the World Heritage List in 1997), which are universal examples or archetypes of the Roman city. The variety of components, the extension of the ensemble and the exceptional conservation status of their remains, make these two sites unique. However, the final moments of life of both of these, recorded in the 1st century, invalidates the comparison thereof with the Hadrianic urban programme in Italica, conceived according to the ideas of Rome in the 2nd century. Other sites that offer vestiges of ancient cities with a comprehensive historical development is Filippos (Greece) (included on the WHL in 2016). This is an Eastern Mediterranean city with a vast number of components that form an urban complex with traces of different historical moments. This case and others indicated previously, are different to the area of Italica, limited to an urban development project dating back to the Hadrianic period.
The long list of World Heritage properties includes sites that comprise ancient towns that are settlements in which Hadrian carried out generous construction work. This is the case with Cyrene, Ephesus and Pergamon. The three represent unique examples of large urban strongholds in the Eastern Mediterranean, a sector of the Empire that benefited greatly from Hadrian’s largesse. These three cities reflect urban development to its full extent and a wide variety of monumental architectural elements, among other things. However, the buildings constructed by this emperor in these cities were inserted in pre-existing urban layouts and, furthermore, they continued to be inhabited during subsequent periods. They are not, therefore, examples of interventions that form part of an urban development project that designs an extensive area of a city based on the models used during Hadrian’s reign, as is the case in Italica.
In the case of Cyrene (on the WHL since 1982), Hadrian’s lavishness was aimed at alleviating the damage caused by the Jewish revolts. He restored the road that connected this town with its port - located in Apollonia - a bath complex that may have been the baths Trajan donated to the city and the Temple of Hecate. He also intervened in a sector of the Cesareum - a gymnasium dating back to the 2nd century BC, which in the 1st century was transformed into a space dedicated to the imperial cult - and he promised to construct a gymnasium. It would appear that, following these interventions, other temples were restored, but by other agents. Cyrene represented the ideal Greco-Roman urban- fabric adored by Hadrian. It shares a relevant past with Italica, but the interventions of the emperor in Cyrene focused on specific buildings that already existed and which were restored. It was not, therefore, an ex novo intervention that involved planning a new city or a vast urban sector and in which, in addition, its main components were deliberately positioned.
The sources tell us very little about Hadrian’s interventions in the port city of Ephesus (included on the WHL in 2015). There are more accounts of the temple of the imperial cult that he would have authorised. This temple may be a large building identified as the Temple of Hadrian or of Zeus. Centuries later, a Christian church was built on this site dedicated to the Virgin Mary. But in Ephesus there is a small sanctuary, located on Curetes Street, dedicated to Hadrian and Artemis by a local oligarch during the initial years of Hadrian’s reign. This building was restored during the 4th century as a monument to the Christian emperors and founders of the city. The relationship between Hadrian and Ephesus is clear, with Antinous, for example, being identified with the local hero Androcles, this being particularly so in terms of the value that the city gave to this emperor and the monuments it dedicated to him in response to his generosity towards the city, concentrated in the area of the port, and towards some of its citizens.
In Pergamon (on the WHL since 2014) there is an imperial temple of worship known as the Traianeum dedicated to Zeus and Trajan. The construction of the temple would have begun at the end of Trajan’s reign, in 114, and have been continued under Hadrian’s. The worship of Hadrian would have then been added, with this building being identified with the Hadrianeum cited by Aelius Aristides. It was located in the acropolis dating back to the Hellenistic period and, given its height, the surrounding area could be controlled visually. The restoration works on this Roman building carried out during the 20th century, provide a good idea of the visual impact it had in its day due to its the vastness. It consisted of a square with a temple in the middle, which coincides with the Traianeum in Italica, although in the one in Pergamon, the portico only extends on three sides and the fourth is open, which is typical of Greco-Hellenistic architecture. However, this building does coincide with that of Italica in the interpretation made with typical Hellenistic construction solutions to adapt them to Roman imperial architecture. Both have temples located in the middle of a square, which are built on a podium that dominates the complex, and are accessed via a front staircase of stone. However, there are more differences that similarities between the two building complexes, although the two are temples and dedicated to the imperial cult.
Hadrian is also said to have been responsible, together with members of the elite from Pergamon, for the construction of a sanctuary of Egyptian Gods, with the so-called “Red Hall” standing out for its stone materials and Egyptian sculptures. This sanctuary was at the foot of the acropolis and its construction required a significant engineering intervention over the River Selinos. After the Roman period, it continued as a place of cult, but now based on different beliefs. In this case, neither the architectural typology nor its dedication to an Egyptian God, is comparable with the temple in Italica. Furthermore, the Asclepeion in Pergamon was constructed during Hadrian’s reign by local oligarchs. It was the most important construction in the city during the 2nd century, but its architectural design is unlike that of temples such as the Traianeum in Italica.
Hadrian’s interventions in Pergamon can be seen in renovation works in specific points of the pre-existing city. It was not an urban development project that involved building a new area of the city or, at least, actions aimed at reforming large urban areas.
Finally, this section includes two sites relating to Hadrian’s building programme which are not included in the World Heritage Catalogues. The first of these is the site of Antinoopolis, a city located in the eastern part of the Empire. This archaeological site is located next to the Egyptian town of Sheikh Ibada. This is an urban sector founded by Hadrian on the site at which his favourite, Antinous, had died. It was therefore an important place for the Emperor, with a strong symbolic significance, as is the case with Italica. This Egyptian city was a mixture of Greco-Hellenistic and Roman components expressed, among other aspects, in the architecture of its properties and its town-planning. There was also a local component and a connection with Egyptian tradition, as there was a temple dating back to Ramses II’s time and an indigenous population. The city founded by Hadrian had an orthogonal layout, with avenues measuring up to 16 metres wide and porticos with large columns. But Antinoopolis also had public buildings in the way of monuments: forum, praetorium for the governor, theatre, stadium, gymnasium and temples, including the Temple of Osiris-Antinous. A considerable part of what is known about this Roman city in Egypt was obtained from ancient written sources, since it is a site that has been considerably pillaged and subjected to strong pressures which, among other causes, are the result of having an existing town in the area. However, it is a site in which research has been conducted in recent years.
Antinoopoolis and The Hadrianic city of Italica coincide in the historical context of their urban infrastructure also, in that they are places with a strong symbolic significance given their association with determining episodes in Hadrian’s life. They are also projects that design a new, large space, with numerous monumental architectural elements and with an urban layout with wide, porticoed avenues. Antinoopolis emerged as a city, Hadrianic Italica as part of a city so wide and so complete that it is almost a city - this new sector was three times larger than the pre-Hadrianic Italica.
Both have a mixture of Greco-Hellenistic, Roman and local elements. In Italica, there are also elements pertaining to the Egyptian world. However, one is in the East and the other in the West. Unlike Antinoopolis, Italica is a site in which extensive archaeological research has been conducted and heritage preservation tasks undertaken, which has enabled The Hadrianic sector of Italica to be a publicly managed space open to the public, in which the components of an urban space designed under the ideological, formal and aesthetic standards of the 2nd century, are for all to see.
The second archaeological site with Hadrian’s interventions not included on the World Heritage lists is Ostia (Italy). In this city so close to the Urbs (new city), forming a considerable part of its harbour, the emperor’s buildings work focused on the renovation of two urban sectors. On the one hand, he intervened in the area known as the Baths of Neptune, which he would reform based on a previous building. He also built a fire station and intervened in a section of the Decumanus Maximus, in which he erected porticos similar to those in Italica. In these Ostian baths, there are mosaics that are very similar to others located in Italica, for example, in the Baths of Neptune. However, the former do not occupy a prominent position within the city as a whole or have the size and layout of the baths in Italica. Nor do they have a gymnasium, as in Italica. The other sector renovated by Hadrian in Ostia was the area of the Forum, which he extended. During this intervention, he included the construction of two porticos and a new temple. He also renovated the cardo maximus and he repeated the portico solution that he erected in the other part of the city.
These works conducted by Hadrian - some finished by his successor, as is the case with the Baths of Neptune - changed the urban image of two sectors of Ostia, but they did so in a traditional fashion, rather than mixing elements as seen in other works he sponsored in other cities of the Empire, such as Italica.
Lastly, included on the Tentative Lists of some countries and in sites forming part of the World Heritage, there are archaeological sites that are ancient sectors in which Hadrian carried out projects. However, they are isolated interventions which, in some cases cannot even be taken into account in a constructive or functional comparison with properties located in the Hadrianic sector of Italica. In this regard, special mention should go to the cities of Patara and Myra, which form part of a proposal for nomination of the ancient cities comprising the Lycian civilisation (on Turkey’s TL since 2009). In these, Hadrian organised the construction of large cereal warehouses in the two cities. Buildings of this type are not currently known within the Hadrianic urban infrastructure of Italica. There are also various inscriptions relating Hadrian to the restoration of an aqueduct that supplied the city of Caesarea (on Israel’s TL since 2000) with water. In the case of the city of Sarmizegetusa (Romania), there are accounts of Hadrian’s intervention in the construction of an aqueduct. This city formed part of the site known as the Dacian Fortresses of the Orastie Mountains (included on the WHL in 1999). In Sarmizegetusa, there is knowledge of Roman baths with different water storage and distribution elements. Apart from restoring aqueducts, Hadrian endorsed the construction and extension of them.
In Italica, one from a previous period was extended, designing a new branch to supply a population that would increase after the northern part of the city had been settled. This aqueduct forms part of the Hadrianic urban development programme in Italica, and therefore, is not an isolated intervention in a city, as would appear to be the case in the aforementioned examples.
The Turkish archaeological of Cyzicus is not included in the World Heritage catalogues. It is an important city of Mysia in which Hadrian intervened after an earthquake had seriously affected it. One of the largest temples of the Empire was built there, i.e. the Temple of Zeus. It was erected on the remains of a previous one, but was far bigger. The temple in Cyzicus exceeded the size of others built by Hadrian, including the Traianeum in Italica, but its design faithfully followed the Hellenistic traditions of the temples of Asia Minor. In this regard, it is also different to the Traianeum at Italica. When Cyzicus acquired the status as neokoros, it became a space dedicated to the imperial cult and the Temple of Zeus also became to be known as the Temple of Hadrian. The construction of the building, other imperial favours and the fame acquired by its quarries, made this city one of the most important in Asia. Hadrian’s construction work in Cyzicus focused on one element, a temple, which, as with the Traianeum, would be a space dedicated to the imperial cult, but the two are different in terms of size and architectural design.
There are different situations in other sites relating to Hadrian’s generosity with the Empire’s cities, but in which he does not appear to have been directly involved in the buildings. This would be the case with Stratonikeia (on Turkey’s TL since 2015). This archaeological site was one of the cities founded by Hadrian in the Eastern Mediterranean. It emerged from the union of two towns and was named Stratonicea- Hadrianopolis. In Aphrodisias (included on the WHL in 2017), there are buildings dedicated to the Emperor, such as Hadrian’s Baths, which were the result of an act of local euergetism. In turn, in Sagalassos (on Turkey’s TL since 2009), the construction of a temple of the imperial cult would have begun during Hadrian’s reign, although it would be concluded during the reign of his successor Antoninus Pius, which would have been dedicated by the city to those emperors. This would have been the origin of the colossal sculptures of Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius with their families, found in some baths in this city.
Finally, special mention should go to the case of Hadrian’s Villa (included on the WHL in 1999). This is the Emperor’s villa in Tibur (Italy), a property featuring all the artistic and stylistic trends and construction techniques of the Hadrianic period. By studying Hadrian’s Villa, one can understand the key aspects of the monumental architecture of the northern sector of Italica. In fact, it seems like the same work teams took part in Hadrian’s Villa and in Italica, particularly in the Traianeum. However, despite the aspects that relate the two places and the fine example represented by the Tiburtine case in terms of studying the monumental architecture of Italica, it should be pointed out that this was an imperial residence and the other a part of a city. Likewise, the Italian villa does not fall within Hadrian’s generous urban development programme, which is indeed the context of the comparative study with Italica.
Other Roman legacy properties declared World Heritage or included on Tentative Lists cover more facets of this culture. Some are even from the Hadrianic period, such as Hadrian’s Wall, which forms part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire (included on the World Heritage List in 1987). This fortification does not fall within the policy of improving cities so strongly advocated by this emperor.
In short, the review of the range of sites similar to the proposed “THE HADRIANIC CITY OF ITALICA” reveals the outstanding nature of this archaeological site to show the form and the outline of a city designed according to the architectural, aesthetic and ideological standards of a specific moment in the history of humanity, as was Hadrian’s reign. This stage coincides with a time of utmost cultural grandeur during an empire that is a fundamental pillar of Western civilisation.
Likewise, the spaciousness and variety of elements that make up the Hadrianic urban development programme in Italica, enables one to gain a full understanding of an area that is the best possible manifestation for understanding the concept of urban space and the use and customs of 2nd-century Rome.
It is precisely the vast size of the intervened area in Italica and the fact that it was an ex novo project, carried out on a site that had no buildings, that differentiates Italica from other urban settings in which Hadrian also implemented generous urban development programmes. In most of these places, the Emperor renovated specific areas of pre-existing cities, reformed buildings from other periods and carried out construction work, but none of these projects were as significant, deeply transforming the urban image of a town, as Italica.
Likewise, although this city was not the only one Hadrian transformed on a large-scale, it is unique in that it offers the best vestiges of this intervention. This is thanks to the complete preservation of its urban development layout, as no other urban occupations have been recorded in the area after the Roman period. This makes Italica unique, particularly when compared with sites that are now inhabited cities. In the case of archaeological sites, without existing cities located on them, Italica stands out for its high degree of archaeological knowledge of the sector and for the long period of protection it has enjoyed, enabling remains to be preserved that now form part of a complex open to the public. This aspect is what enables the vestiges of the Hadrianic city to be recognised in depth and in detail and in an urban environment.
Italica shares the symbolic importance of the urban sector with other places that benefited from Hadrian’s muniticence. However, in the case of Italica, this ideological context can be understood from the analysis of the preserved architectural ensemble. This enables an overall understanding of the place, without the handicap of having a more limited knowledge of an area, which is the case with other places that are now existing cities or that have not undergone considerable archaeological interventions. Although Hadrian’s work was carried out across the entire Empire, Italica is an outstanding example within the Roman territory. The fact that it was a newly built urban development project, the significant area of intervention, the variety of elements recorded there and the excellent level of preservation of the Hadrianic urban layout, differentiate Italica from other western provinces of the Roman Empire and also, other cities in the East. This makes Italica the finest universal example of an urban space developed during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian.
Finally, from the point of view of monumental architecture, the public buildings in Italica, dating back to the 2nd century, are the most extraordinary to be found in any the western province of the Empire, given their imperial scale. They are also unique buildings that illustrate the defining features of Hadrian’s monumental architecture. In addition to this, the value of some of these buildings, such as the Traianeum, as a possible model for subsequent buildings, should also be taken into account.
Athens after Greek independence
Greek insurgents surprised the city in 1821 and captured the Acropolis in 1822, but in 1826 Athens again fell into the hands of the Turks, who bombarded and took the Acropolis in the following year (the Erechtheum suffered greatly, and the monument of Thrasyllus was destroyed). The Turks remained in possession of the Acropolis until 1833, when Athens was chosen as the capital of the new kingdom of Greece. Its subsequent history is that of the kingdom.
In World War I, Athens was the scene of the incidents of 1916–17 that led to the deposition of King Constantine by the Allies. It was occupied by German troops during World War II, but the city was spared aerial bombardment.
In the second half of the 20th century, the population of the Athens metropolitan area swelled, though the growth was concentrated in suburban and exurban communities. By the 1980s Athens had become known for having some of the worst traffic congestion and concomitant air pollution of any European city. The failure of public transportation to alleviate these problems was one of the reasons cited for the failure of Athens’s bid to host the 1996 Olympic Games. In securing the hosting of the 2004 Games, Athens undertook a massive transportation infrastructure improvement effort. Some observers doubted that the city would be able to complete its transportation upgrade and civic improvements in time for the Games, but a new international airport was opened in 2001, the metropolitan transit system was expanded, a new tram system was up and running, and the cement was dry on the new sports venues before the opening ceremony. Athens also met the challenge of providing shelter and sustenance for the migrants and refugees displaced by turmoil in Africa and the Middle East in the mid-2010s.