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Mérida ( ) is the capital of the autonomous community of Extremaduramarker, Spainmarker. It has a population of 55,568 (2008).

History

It was founded in the year 25 BC, with the name of Emerita Augustamarker (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 Guadianamarker river. Two veteran legions were the former settlers: Ⅴ Alaudae and Ⅹ Gemina. 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 archmarker of the age of Trajan); because of this, the "Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida" is a World Heritage site.

During the Visigothic period the city maintained much of its splendor, especially under the sixth-century domination of the bishops, when it was the capital of Hispania. Bishop Paul brought the diocese great wealth, making it the wealthiest in Spain. Bishop Fidelis rebuilt the cathedral, and under the bishop Masona it became the site of the first recorded hospital in Spain.

Buildings and structures

Among the remaining Roman monuments are the Puente Romanomarker, a bridge over the Guadianamarker River that is still used by pedestrians, and the longest of all existing Roman bridges; an important fortification to defend the bridge, and later used by the Moors, called Alcazabamarker; the Temple of Diana; the remains of the Forum, including the Arch of Trajan; the remains of the Circus Maximus; the Acueducto de los Milagrosmarker (aqueduct); a villa called the Villa Mitreo; the Embalse de Proserpina and Cornalvo reservoirs; the Circus, the Amphitheater, and the Teatro Romano, where a summer festival of Classical theater is presented, usually with versions of Greco-Roman classics or modern plays set in ancient times. One can also visit the Morerías archaeological site, Santa Maria's Cathedral, and many other locations all around the city to watch digging in progress, as well as the Museo Nacional de Arte Romano (designed by Rafael Moneo).

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.

Miscellaneous

  • The cities of Méridamarker in Venezuelamarker, capital of Mérida State, and Méridamarker in Yucatánmarker, Mexicomarker, 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.


Gallery

File:02.Teatro romano (49).JPG|Roman Theatre in Mérida.File:GradasTeatroRomano.JPG|Grandstand of the roman theatre.File:Circo romano de Merida.JPG|The Roman Circus in Mérida .File:Merida Roman anfiteatro02.jpg|The Roman Gladiator Arena's grandstands.File:El acueducto de Los Milagros.jpg|The 'roman' Aqueduct of the Miraclesmarker.File:Acueducto de Rabo de Buey-SanLazaro2.jpg|The 'roman' Aqueduct of Rabo de Buey.File:Le Temple de Diane.jpg|The Temple of Diana (Mérida), in the Roman Forum.File:Puente romano mérida.jpg|El Puente Romanomarker, is the longest of all existing Roman bridges.File:Estatua5 en el Teatro de Merida.jpg|One of the statues inside the roman theatre.File:Foro municipal mérida.jpg|The Roman Forum.File:Calzada Emerita Augusta Caesar augusta.JPG|Roman streets well-preserved in Mérida.File:Acueducto de Los Milagros.jpg|The 'roman' Aqueduct of San Lázaro.File:Basílica_Mérida.jpg|Basilica of Santa Eulalia (IV century A.C.).File:Alcazaba_merida.jpg|Alcazaba of Mérida, built in the year 835 A.C.File:CatedraldeMérida.JPG|Concatedral de Santa María (1230-1579).File:Presidencia_extremadura.jpg|Palace of the Presidency of the extremaduran government.File:LaAntigua.jpg|Our lady of La Antigua Church (XV-XVI centuries).File:Santa Clara.jpg|Santa Clara Church.File:mnar2.jpg|Roman Art National Museum in Mérida.File:Missorium Théodose dt Tellus.jpg|A detail of the Theodosius Missorium, Mérida.

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