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The Roman legacy of Spain


The contributions of Rome to Spain are truly significant.  It includes language, government, culture, religion, architecture and infrastructure.  On the other hand, Spain natural resources were obviously useful in further expanding the Roman Empire. 

The Iberian Peninsula (“Hispania” in Latin) is the term used by the Romans to refer collectively to modern Portugal, Spain, Andorra, Gibraltar and a very small region in Southern France.  It was ruled by Rome for almost 500 years.  Spain was occupied by the Romans in the 2nd century B.C. as part of it growing empire.  It provides Rome with food, wine, olive oil and metal.  Central Spain was part of the Roman province of Hispania Tarraconensis.  Since most inhabitants of the said region were Celtic origin, the Romans refer to them as Celtiberians which means “Celts who live in Iberia”.  It was constructed with paved roads to allow roman troops and supplies to travel across the Peninsula.  Roman engineers set up bridges to cross rivers and gullies.  There are still remaining 3-arched bridges in Meseta demonstrating the early technology used by the Romans in building structures. 

The famous Roman entertainment of blood sports was also adopted by the Celtiberians.  Ruins of an amphitheatre in southern Meseta that can accommodate approximately 5,000 spectators confirm how Spaniards adopted combat entertainment between wild animals and gladiators.  People of Central Spain also adopted the Roman tradition of bathing.  An intramural baths is found in Segobriga located near the amphitheatre.  It has locker rooms where bathers would take their clothes off before taking a bath.  There are 16 slots, set on 3 walls in which bathers can place their clothes.  Roman market days are characterized by the so-called forum.  It is generally an even plaza or court with temples, various shops, and law-courts on the side.  But people in Valeria in Central Spain place their forums on hilltop towns.  The flat room has 13 tabernae or shops that are divided in half by huge pillars.  It usually sells only one type of product as compare to present shopping centers.

Roman’s one major influence to Spain is no doubt religion.  During the Roman domination, Spain received Christianity.  Today, Roman Catholicism is the leading religion in the country with 76% of Spanish population identifying themselves as Catholics. Perhaps the most penetrating Roman influence was lingual.  The Spaniards have adopted a neo-Latin tongue that continued to exist in great flawlessness in Castile.  The language has also experienced immense changes due to the aspirated expression in the East.  It was the period of Roman colonization when Spain produced great orators, poets, and philosophers such as Quintilian, Lucan, Silius Italicus, Martial and Seneca.  This is attributed to Roman’s great interest to literature and ironically Spain’s continual resistance which eventually ended when it was romanized.

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