The 17th-century village of Santiponce lies nine km (5.5 miles) north of Seville and is the site of one of Andalusia’s most important historical remains: the Roman city of Itálica near the banks of the Guadalquivir River. Founded in 206 BC when the Romans were busily empire-building across Europe, Itálica was the first – and largest – Roman settlement in southern Spain; it rose to be of considerable military significance within the Empire and was the birthplace of several emperors, including Hadrian, who built the infamous wall across northern England. The city fell into disrepair with the crumbling of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, and for many years it was plundered for stone used in the building of the lovely city of Seville. In its heyday, Itálica was probably home to around 10,000 people, and today the highlight of a visit are the remains of its magnificent amphitheater; its underground passages – where gladiators waited to fight – are still intact. The ancient grid of streets is visible, as are the remains of some grand villas, where mosaics have been uncovered, as well thermal baths, plumbing systems, stores and public buildings. Many of the statues and mosaics removed from the ruins are on show in Seville’s archaeological museum.
Avinguda Extremadura, 2 41970 Santiponce. Open Jan–Mar, Sept 16–Dec Tue–Sat 10am–5.30pm, Sun 9am–3.30pm; Apr–June 15 Tue–Sat 10am–7.30pm, Sun 9am–3.30pm; June 16–Sept 15 Tue–Sat 10am–3.30pm, Sun 9am–3.30pm. Admission free to EU residents, otherwise €1.50. Accessible by service M-172 from Seville’s Plaza de Armas bus station.