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—  Municipality  —


Coat of arms
Mérida, Spain location
Mérida is located in Spain
Location in Spain
Coordinates: 38°54′N 6°20′W / 38.9°N 6.333°W / 38.9; -6.333Coordinates: 38°54′N 6°20′W / 38.9°N 6.333°W / 38.9; -6.333
Country  Spain
Autonomous community  Extremadura
Province Badajoz
Comarca Mérida
Valley Guadiana
Judicial district Mérida
Founded 25 BC
 - Alcalde José Ángel Calle Gragera (2007) (PSOE)
 - Total 865.6 km2 (334.2 sq mi)
Elevation 217 m (712 ft)
Population (2009)
 - Total 56,395
 Density 65.2/km2 (168.7/sq mi)
 - Demonym Emeritenses
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 06800
Official language(s)
Website Official website
Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Roman theater in Mérida.
State Party  Spain
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, iv
Reference 664
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1993  (17th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Mérida (Extremaduran: Méria) is the capital of the autonomous community of Extremadura, Spain. It has a population of 56,395 (2009). The "Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida" is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993.



It was founded in the year 25 BC, with the name of Emerita Augusta (meaning the bachelors – discharged soldiers – of the army of Augustus, who founded the city; the name Mérida is an evolution of this) by order of Emperor Augustus, to protect a pass and a bridge over the Guadiana river. The city became the capital of Lusitania province, and one of the most important cities in the Roman empire. Mérida preserves more important ancient Roman monuments than any other city in Spain (including a triumphal arch of the age of Trajan).

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, during the Visigothic period, the city maintained much of its splendor, especially under the 6th century domination of the bishops, when it was the capital of Hispania. In 713 it was conquered by the Muslim army under Musa bin Nusair, and became the capital of the cora of Mérida; the Arabs re-used most of the old Roman edifices and expanded them (such as in the case of the Alcazaba).

The city returned under Christians hands in 1230, when it was conquered by Alfonxo IX of León, and subsequently became the seat of the priory of San Marcos de León of the Order of Santiago. A period of recover started for Mérida after the unifications of the crown of Catalonia and Castile (15th century), thanks to the support of Alonso de Cárdenas, Grand Master of the Order. In 172 the city became the capital of the Intendencia of Mérida.

In the 19th century, in the course of the Napoleonic invasion, numerous monuments of Mérida and of Extremadura were destroyed or damaged. Later the city became a railway hub and lived a massive process of industralization.

Main sights

Among the remaining Roman monuments are:

  • the Puente Romano, a bridge over the Guadiana River that is still used by pedestrians, and the longest of all existing Roman bridges[1]. Annexed is a fortification (the Alcazaba), built by the Muslim emir Abd ar-Rahman II in 835 on the Roman walls and Roman-Visigothic edifices in the area. The court houses Roman mosaics, while underground is a Visigothic cistern.
  • remains of the Forum, including the Temple of Diana, and of the Roman Provincial Forum, including the Arch of Trajan
  • remains of the Circus Maximus (1st century BC), one of the best preserved Roman circus buildings
  • Acueducto de los Milagros (aqueduct of Miracles)
  • patrician villa called the Villa Mitreo, with precious mosaic pavements
  • the Embalse de Proserpina and Cornalvo reservoirs
  • the Amphitheatre, and the Roman theatre, where a summer festival of Classical theater is presented, usually with versions of Greco-Roman classics or modern plays set in ancient times.
  • Morerías archaeological site
  • Santa Maria's Cathedral (13th-14th centuries)
  • Museo Nacional de Arte Romano (designed by Rafael Moneo)
  • Renaissance Ajuntamento (Town Hall)
  • Church of Santa Eulalia, dating to the 4th century but rebuilt in the 13th century. Its portico reuses parts of an ancient temple of Mars.

There are several notable buildings built recently, such as the Escuela de la Administración Pública (Public Administration College), the Consejerías y Asamblea de Junta de Extremadura (councils and parliament of Extremadura), the Agencía de la Vivienda de Extremadura (Housing Agency of Extremadura), the Biblioteca del Estado (State Library), the Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones (auditorium), the Factoría de Ocio y Creación Joven (cultural and leisure center for youth), the Complejo Cultural Hernán Cortés (cultural center), the Ciudad Deportiva (sports city), the Universidad de Mérida (Mérida University), the Confederación Hidrografica del Guadiana (Guadiana Hydrographic Confederation designed by Rafael Moneo), the Puente Lusitania (Lusitania Bridge over the Guadiana River designed by Santiago Calatrava), the Palacio de Justicia (Justice Hall), etc.

Demographic evolution

Demographic evolution of Mérida, Spain between 1991 and 2008
1991 1996 2001 2006 2008
49.284 51.830 50.271 53.915 55.568

International relations


Twin towns — Sister cities

Mérida is twinned with:


  • The cities of Mérida in Venezuela, capital of Mérida State, and Mérida in Yucatán, Mexico, were named after Mérida in Spain. A square in Mérida called the Glorieta de las Méridas del Mundo (Square of the Méridas of the World) contains an obelisk commemorating the three sister cities.
  • Mérida UD is the principal football team of the city.
  • Mérida is home to such cultural luminaries as the conductor Alberto Porro Carmona "Al Carmona", the pianist Estéban Sánchez, or the painter Mikelo.



  1. ^ a b O’Connor 1993, pp. 106–107


  • O’Connor, Colin (1993), Roman Bridges, Cambridge University Press, pp. 106–107, ISBN ISBN 0-521-39326-4 

External links


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