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“A Beautiful Place”
Review of Ruins of Empuries

Ruins of Empuries
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Costa Brava Day Trip from Barcelona
Ranked #12 of 219 things to do in Costa Brava
Certificate of Excellence
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Reviewed 5 March 2014

The site is marvelous. The Greek ruins are near the sea, and the Roman ruins are a bit inland. The ruins have several existing antiquities like statutes and murals. And the whole thing is on the Mediterranean sea. The water is a beautiful blue that make your heart ache. Explore the ruins, then visit the museum, and finally enjoy the beach. Travel to the charming little village where restaurants sit next to more intact ruins. I laughed when I found the stone couch!

Thank Jery P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 1 February 2014

Empúries was founded on a small island at the mouth of the river Fluvià in northeastern Spain by Greek colonists from Phocaea in 575 BCE. Prior to that time the area was predominatly inhabited by an early Iberian tribe known as the Indigetes. In 550 BCE the inhabitants of the small island city moved to the mainland and expanded from an influx of refugees after the mother country of Phocaea was conquered by Persian king Cyrus II in 530 BCE. Before long it was a thriving trade center and the largest Greek colony on the Iberian peninsula.

But with its choice location on the shores of the Mediterranean, it was pressured by the two super-powers of the day, Carthage and Rome.

When the Second Punic War erupted between Carthage and Rome, Empúries (known as Emporion by the Greeks) allied itself with Rome and served as Publius Cornelius Scipio's launching point for his eventual conquest of Iberia in 218 BCE. Although the city remained independent until the 1st century BCE, it eventually became the focus of a contest between Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great during the last civil war of the Roman Republican period. Unfortunately, this time, it sided with Pompey, the eventual loser in the conflict and a victorious Julius Caesar stripped the city of its autonomy and made it a colony for his Roman veterans, renaming it Emporiae.

The Romans built a new city center apart from the former Greek settlement and erected a forum, baths, a curia, a small amphitheater and a paleoChristian basilica on a nearby hill.

I wish I had studied this history before visiting the site as we arrived towards the end of May and the guided tours don't start until June. We wandered around what I now know to be the early Greek ruins (excavations began in 1908), not realizing the Roman ruins are up the hill a short distance.

A small but very nicely organized museum is situated in the middle of the Greek ruins surrounded by the remains of homes, shops and a temple erected for the healing god Asclepius. A reproduction of a statue of Asclepius marks the temple's former location.

I also saw a large geometric mosaic pavement in situ as well as an interesting terracotta water filtration system. I was a little disappointed that only about 1/3 of the structures' walls were intact but, of course, Empúries did not have a protective layer of volcanic ash like Pompeii. I do wish I had seen the Roman ruins, though, as I have since learned they have many more mosaics still in place. It's my understanding only 20% of the Roman site has, as yet, been excavated, though.

In the museum we found the original statue of Asclepius made from expensive imported Greek Pentelic and Parian marble. The museum also displays several mosaics discovered at the site. A mosaic depicting a scene of Iphigenia from Homer's Iliad was particularly nice - intricate and very colorful. There was also a wonderful partially completed mosaic of a bird and another depicting a rather wicked-looking theater mask.

The city's necropolis that was in use from the 7th century BCE up to the Middle Ages has yielded a variety of black and red-figured Greek ceramics despite extensive looting over the centuries. The grave of a Roman child contained a little jointed doll that is also on display. It reminded me very much of the ancient Roman jointed dolls I saw at the Palazzo Massimo the last time I was in Rome.

In one house the marble head of a lady was discovered that resembles the first Roman empress Livia, wife of Augustus. The jury's still out, though, trying to decide if it was her or the matron of the household, who was merely emulating Livia's hairstyle.

A marvelous marble herm carved to depict the god Dionysus (Bacchus to the Romans) was found in the Roman ruins as well as a beautiful bronze oil lamp. I thought the lamp looked very much like a satyr because of its comical expression although the ears are not particularly pointed.

The site overlooks a beautiful beach although it appeared to be cordoned off when we were there. So we drove into a nearby town and I had my first encounter with the Mediterranean there.

3  Thank mharrsch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 January 2014

Well worth a wander around. This site offers interest to the novice through to the expert Roman historian. Tidy lavatories. Not much in way of on site catering. Something to do on a clear blue day.

This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 November 2013

I have to be honest when my husband said we were going to look at Ancient Greek ruins I wasn't that excited, been to Hadrian's wall etc but WOW! This place was amazing. We walked around the Greek city first which was incredible,so well preserved and spread over such a large area. We then wandered up to the Roman city and were blown away. You really do get a sense of the layout of the city and can imagine people walking on those streets. It covers a very large area with a large section of city walls and the amphitheatre beyond the walls. A definite must see!

Thank Grantie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 September 2013

Empuries was definitely worth a visit. The site is HUGE so be prepared to be walking a lot and make sure to take breaks! But because it was so big, and all the visitors spread out, you feel like you get the whole place to yourself- what a great experience!

Thank Solange B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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