Roman Hispalis

Seville was one of the most important cities in the Empire. It is famed for the two Roman emperors, Trajan and Hadrian, who were born in these lands.

Roman Seville had two main settlements, one dating back to the first century BC, around the year 69, when Caesar is thought to have come to the city at first. This is the hypothesis of the Republican city. But it must be recalled that the first reference to Rome is in the year 206 BC, when the Battle of llipa was fought and Italica was founded.

On the image, you can admire an extraordinary mosaic that represents the god Neptune and his court of marine creatures, all in black and white, except the polychrome figure of the god. Neptune is represented with a trident, driving a biga, a two-horse carriage, drawn by hippocamps, a horse with fish-like hindquarters, and, around them, centaurs, a ram, a bull and other land animals.

An old legend, originating from the time spent by Fadrique Enríquez de Ribera, the first Marquis of Tarifa, in the Holy Land, claims that this Palace is a copy of Pontius Pilate’s praetorium in Jerusalem. In the main patio there is a large statue of Pallas Athena, an original work by Phidias which the Romans took from Athens during war and was later given by Pope Pius V to Don Pedro de Ribera.


The history of the city goes back to the eighth century BC, to the biblical kingdom of Tartessos, which developed an extraordinary civilisation. Its ships sailed as far as the British Isles and ventured down the West African coast. Trade with Greeks and Phoenicians flourished and they founded prosperous factories. The Battle of Ilipa in 206 BC marked the triumph of Rome over Carthage and the Roman presence for the following seven centuries left a profound mark on the personality of Seville.

The Roman city of Italica, located on the Lower Guadalquivir, between Seville (Hispalis) and Alcalá del Río (Ilipa), very close to the routes that communicated with the mining zone in the Sierra Norte mountains of Seville and in Huelva, played a very important role in both politico-military and economic terms during the early Roman Empire.

The families of Trajan and Hadrian were originally from Italica and the city was the home of a good number of the senators of the time. From the days of Augustus, at the change of Era, the city underwent many urban and architectural improvements including, especially, the Theatre, which was constructed under his rule or perhaps under Caesar, and has a capacity for 3,000 spectators. Another buidling is the Amphitheatre, one of the largest in the Empire.