Italica is, according to history, the first city created by the Roman Empire in Hispania, and outside the Italian Peninsula, from which it acquires its name; located between the turdetan cities Hispalis – now Seville – and Ilipa – currently Alcalá del Río -. It is considered, by some authors, as the most important work carried out by the Romans in Andalusia.
It was founded in 206 BC by General Publius Cornelius Scipio, “The African”, in the context of the Second Punic War, after the battle of Ilipa Magna, from which he was victorious against the Carthaginians; with the objective of establishing a place of rest for its wounded soldiers, as well as a new residence for the war veterans -vicus ci
vium romanorum-, in the lands of the west margin of the Baetis River -our now river Guadalquivir-.
This is how vetus urbs -the old city- (the whole nucleus founded by Scipio) was born, which lies on the site that now occupies the municipality of Santiponce since the sixteenth century, so that most of the original constructions have been lost.
From the first century, and especially in the second century, the cities of the region begin to grow, providing military security and commercial routes to the Betic zone; necessary for important figures to emerge for the empire, in addition to a great splendor in the Roman world.
Acquires its status as a municipality during the time of Augustus (Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus, 63rd, C.-14d.C.), First emperor of the Roman Empire; moment in which the city begins to coin money and to experience the beginning of a great boom.
In the year 53, the Emperor Trajan (Marco Ulpio Trajano, 53-117) was born in the city of Itálica, who reigned from year 98 until his death in 117 – being the first emperor not born in the Italic Peninsula.
Later, in the year 117, Emperor Adriano (Publio Elio Adriano 117-137) was born, also in Itálica, who led an important progress for the city, in all aspects; expanding it and building a large number of buildings for public, cultural and social services. This is how he created the nova urbs -the new city-, then called Colonia Aelia Augusta Italica, in honor of the emperor. With this extension the city acquired the status of colony, with what begins to be equated, administratively, with the metropolis of Rome; copying their institutions.
This new city, whose ruins are partly visible today, was especially loved by Adriano, for what made it an honorific city, characterized by having wide streets and arcaded sidewalks, as well as large buildings and houses. Implanted public services such as sewerage and water canalization; of which some remains are conserved.
The archaeological excavations in Itálica, which have not yet stopped, begin with those carried out by Francisco de Bruna in 1781, giving rise to the current Itálica Archaeological Complex, part of the nova urbs, which we can visit, in which numerous structures are preserved from the city; as well as numerous mosaics and monuments of incalculable value.
The Itálica Archaeological Complex
The city, walled, had an extension of 3,150 meters, and composed five main streets, parallel and sewer.
Among the ruins of what was once the nova urbs, we can find six public buildings and approximately fifty houses -generally two in each block-, most of them not yet excavated. We can highlight several great constructions that can be visited, such as the amphitheater, the theater, the temple dedicated to Trajan (the Traianeum), the thermal baths and several houses; some of them have mosaics of great color and creativity.
Of the important monuments that there were in the city there are many remains of great interest and archaeological and sculptural value; Many pieces are preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Seville.
An important part of the Roman remains was lost during the wars of the Visigoth kings Leovigildo and Hermenegildo, when using them as constructive elements to divert the course of the Guadalquivir river.