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This Navarrese city was the splendor of the Roman Empire in northern Spain and contains a fascinating stone library

When we think of the Roman Empire, our minds often go to famous landmarks like the Colosseum. However, there are many traces of the empire’s presence in Spain, including the first city of Hispania, where two great emperors were born. Today, we will explore a lesser-known location in Navarra, Spain called Santa Criz de Eslava. This city, described as the most monumental Roman work preserved in Navarra, offers a glimpse into the diverse population and impressive architecture of ancient times. From its imperial forum to its necropolis, Santa Criz de Eslava reveals the power and influence of the Roman Empire in this region. Join us as we uncover the secrets of this hidden gem.

Traces of the Roman Empire in Spain

When we reflect upon the grandeur of the Roman Empire, our minds often conjure up images of epic films and iconic landmarks like the Colosseum. However, Spain also boasts numerous remnants of the empire’s presence on the peninsula. One such place is Santa Criz de Eslava, a hidden gem nestled in the province of Navarra. This city, which was once the capital of Spain during the reign of Charles V, holds the distinction of being the first city of Hispania. It is a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage left behind by the Roman Empire.

Santa Criz de Eslava: The First City of Hispania

Santa Criz de Eslava, located in the Sangüesa region of Navarra, is often hailed as the most monumental Roman city preserved in the region and one of the most impressive in the entire northern part of the peninsula. With a population of just 124 inhabitants, this quaint corner of Navarra is a treasure trove of ancient history. Historians and archaeologists estimate that the Roman armies set their sights on this strategic enclave around 195 BC. Situated on the banks of the Indusi River, Santa Criz de Eslava commanded a vantage point over the valley of Aibar and the Aragon River, facilitating communication with the Pyrenees and the Ebro valley.

Location and Historical Significance

Santa Criz de Eslava’s historical significance is further enhanced by its proximity to Pamplona, a mere 40-minute drive away. This prime location played a pivotal role in the city’s growth and development. As the emperor Augustus ascended to power, Santa Criz de Eslava gained prominence and gradually shifted southwards. This shift towards a major road led to the construction of notable structures, such as the imperial forum. The forum, a central square in the city, is believed to have housed a basilica, an administrative and judicial building, and possibly Roman taverns on its outskirts. The remains of the forum provide valuable insights into the powerful families that once thrived in Santa Criz de Eslava, including the Valerii, Cornelii, and Calpurnii.

The Roman City of Santa Criz de Eslava

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the captivating history of Santa Criz de Eslava, a remarkable Roman city nestled in the picturesque province of Navarra. This hidden gem, with its well-preserved ruins and rich cultural heritage, offers a fascinating glimpse into the ancient world of the Roman Empire.

The Imperial Forum

One of the standout features of Santa Criz de Eslava is its magnificent imperial forum. This grand square, once the bustling heart of the city, was a hub of political, administrative, and judicial activities. Imagine the echoes of ancient footsteps as you explore the remnants of the basilica and the administrative and judicial buildings that once adorned this central area. The forum also served as a meeting place for the diverse population of Santa Criz de Eslava, where ideas were exchanged, and the vibrant tapestry of Roman life unfolded.

Powerful Families and Roman Influence

Delve into the intriguing history of Santa Criz de Eslava and discover the powerful families that left their mark on this Roman city. The Valerii, Cornelii, and Calpurnii were among the influential clans that thrived in this vibrant community. Their presence is evident in the remains of the forum, offering a glimpse into the social and political dynamics of Roman society. As you wander through the ancient streets, you can almost envision the daily lives of the inhabitants, their customs, and their aspirations.

The Roman influence extended beyond the forum, permeating every aspect of life in Santa Criz de Eslava. The city’s necropolis, a sacred resting place for the deceased, reveals fascinating insights into Roman burial customs and rituals. Inscriptions and artifacts found within the necropolis shed light on the predominant families of the time, providing a tangible connection to the past.

Santa Criz de Eslava stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Roman Empire in Spain. Its well-preserved ruins and historical significance offer a captivating journey through time, allowing visitors to appreciate the grandeur and influence of one of the greatest civilizations in history.

The Necropolis of the Roman City

Uncover the secrets of the past as you explore the fascinating necropolis of the Roman city of Santa Criz de Eslava. This sacred burial ground offers a glimpse into the customs and rituals of the ancient Romans, providing a poignant reminder of the lives that once thrived in this historic city.

Discoveries and Inscriptions

Step into the stone library of the necropolis, where inscriptions and artifacts have been unearthed, revealing the names of prominent families that once called Santa Criz de Eslava home. As you wander through this ancient resting place, you’ll encounter remnants of cremations, mausoleums, and objects from daily life. These discoveries offer a window into the cultural practices and beliefs of the Roman inhabitants, showcasing their reverence for the afterlife and the importance they placed on honoring their ancestors.

Importance and Significance

The necropolis of Santa Criz de Eslava holds immense historical importance and significance. It serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Roman Empire and its influence on the region. The presence of human remains, jewelry, and coins within the necropolis provides valuable insights into the social and economic fabric of the city. Archaeologists have determined that cremations took place outside the necropolis, with the remains later being laid to rest in this sacred space. This practice highlights the reverence and respect the Romans held for their departed loved ones.

By exploring the necropolis, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the lives and customs of the ancient Romans who once inhabited Santa Criz de Eslava. It is a place of reflection and contemplation, where the past comes alive and whispers its stories to those who are willing to listen.

In conclusion, Santa Criz de Eslava in Navarra, Spain, is a remarkable Roman city that showcases the empire’s influence in the region. With its strategic location and impressive monuments such as the imperial forum and necropolis, Santa Criz de Eslava provides valuable insights into the diverse population and powerful families that once thrived there. The well-preserved state of the city and its archaeological findings highlight the importance and significance of Santa Criz de Eslava during Roman times. Exploring this hidden gem allows us to appreciate the lasting legacy of the Roman Empire in unexpected places.

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