Conquering Asturias, and in particular Gijón, was not an easy task for the Roman Empire. The native population of this city made Augustus got angry, and after ten years of battles, I came himself with other extra seven legions. The whole submission would be done by the 19th year before Christ.
Octavious Agustus, first emperor of Rome, grabs our attention on the western limit on the beach of San Lorenzo. This sculpture shows the Supreme General of the Army speaking with his subjects and keeping a pose of command. In some sense, we could say that he is inviting us to know his historical legacy in this city such as the thermals of Campo Valdés, the roman village of Veranes or the rich archeology of Campa Torres.
During the next centuries, Rome would leave its influence on architecture and way of life of this city. Today we know much more about this period thanks to the new discovering of old roman deposits that had been hidden over the last twenty centuries.
But what we know from the very beginning is the Roman Wall erected just in the middle of the urban center of this city. This was built by the end of the III century and beginning of the IV. This wall used to enclose the old city, what today is the famous neighborhood of Cimadevilla. It spreads from the beach (in the vicinity of the church of San Peter) up to the fishing port by its western side. Its perimeter covers around one kilometer.
The old Roman Thermals of Campo Valdés
Inside these walls, under the raised area which is front of the Church of San Pedro, we can visit the old Roman Thermals of Campo Valdés. These were public baths where the native inhabitants of this city used to spend their spare time. These thermals are a construction of the end of I century and beginnings of the II. They are also considered the most important found in the North of Spain. The current museum, located in this same place, shows the importance of these baths in the Roman culture and its construction techniques, focusing on the central heating systems (hypocaustum) and the wall paintings. In these rooms we can find numerous archaeological materials found in the original deposit. We can also observe some models and interactive monitors apart from an explanatory video. This itinerary is made through a catwalk that reproduces the original route.
This public building was occupied between the III and IV centuries but without keeping its original function. The going on occupation during the following centuries is reflected in a particular deposit of old materials dated between the V and VI centuries.
Finally, during the Middle Ages, this place was used as a necropolis. Nowadays in this place is located the church of San Pedro, founded in the beginnings of the 15th century.
The Roman Village of Veranes
Another example of the Roman period is shown in the current museum of The Roman Village of Veranes, open to public recently, in March, 2007, with an hectare of extension. This village is located in the outskirts of the city of Gijon with lots of quiet and sunny places, wonderful landscapes and water abundance.
We can have access to a reception building from where we see the rests of this village. From here we go to the audiovisual and exhibitions rooms respectively. The visit to this museum is done through a down path that leads us to this monument. From here to new path starts that leads to different rooms and interesting points in this museum. What we are doing in deed is just observing livestock exploitations from two thousand years ago; for instance, a Roman farm with a residential area or also called "urban pars" and "pars rustica". In the first one the Lord of the village used to live in, and the second one was dedicated to the exploitation of the "fundus".
The archaeological rests that we can visit today in the locality of Veranes belongs to the "urban pars" of a big establishment that was built in the Late Imperium (IV century after Christ) over a primitive ruins of a rustic early settlement of considerable relevance. A big stately house in deed, belonging to a noble owner that was most surely called Veranius.
The walk along these ruins allow us to know how it was daily life by that time, what was the kind of food their inhabitants used to eat, how they got it, what kind of cattle they had, what kind or activities they had in their spare time, etc. Some of the rooms that we can visit here still keep part of their original road surface, highlighting a polychrome mosaic of five square meters and good kept, that is the jewel of this museum.
Although the village of Veranes dated from the I century after Christ, its most important moment took place in the IV century. By the VI century this area was converted into a church and necropolis. By the XIV century it was abandoned and its recovering did not start until the year 1997.
The Campa of Torres
The Campa of Torres is another important point as part of the Roman legacy in the municipality of Gijón. It was one of the first Asturian sites in showing its connection with the Imperium. It is a cape located on the west of the local bay and near the old neighborhood of Cimadevilla. From here we can enjoy wonderful views of this city. This lookout is the current seat of The Natural Archaelogical Park of La Campa Torres, in which we can observe the "oppidum noega", an old Celtic settlement specialized in the metallurgy, as cited by Strabo, Pomponio, Mela and Plinio. Also here, apart from enjoying the round primitive buildings of the Astures, we can realize the later Roman influence on them that changed the round shape for a rectangular one.
All about this is clearly explained in an annex building that shows permanently expositions and counts with another room for temporary expositions, workshops and assembly hall.
And finally to our route by the Roman part of Gijón, we can visit the famous Clock Tower (Clock Tower) very close to the Roman thermals. It is a center specialized in a permanent exhibition about the history of this city.
The showing of historical and archaeological documentation is articulated in five floors, explaining us more than twelve excavations of this city and its council, as well as other testimonies of the urban development between the XVI and XIX centuries. This itinerary starts on the ground floor, where we can see rests of the Roman wall and pre-roman materials found in this council.Text: © Ramón Molleda for desdeasturias.com
Information of interestThere are bonds individual input for the three archaeological museums. The rate for adults over 16 years is 4.20 €. Pensioners, children under 16, student card or youth card, groups (10 + people) and families conveniently identified. 2.05 €
Telephone and fax: (0034) 985 30 16 82
Free admission on Sundays.