Since ancient times, a route along a natural corridor has articulated the west of the Iberian Peninsula. It allowed Tartessos to trade with the north of the Iberian plateau in the 7th century BC and it was this route that Roman troops used to advance north.

At the time of the Emperor Augustus and especially during the reigns of the Emperors Trajan and Hadrian, it was developed as a Roman road that in its beginnings linked Emerita Augusta (Merida) with Asturica Augusta (Astorga), and which continued along the Via XXIII, Iter ab Ostio Fluminis Anae Emeritam Usque, to Seville in the south, and up to Gijón in the north through The Carisa Way, a Roman road promoted by the general Publius Carisius with the purpose of linking the military settlements of León with the Cantabrian Sea. The primitive roadway and its natural extensions created a great communication route linking the Cantabrian coast with the lands of southern Hispania.


Goods, troops, merchants and travellers circulated on it in a continuous coming and going that favoured the spread of Roman culture, its language and ways of life, while facilitating the control of the territory required by the administration of the Roman Empire.

This route continued to be used over the centuries and continued to play an important role in the communications network of the Iberian Peninsula in the Middle Ages, during the centuries when Muslims and Christians shared the territory, economy and culture, and thereafter.

The richness of the historical past of the Ruta Vía de la Plata, whose name derives from the Arabic balat, “cobbled road”, is evident in the countless vestiges that line its route, which offers one of the most interesting sets of our historical heritage.

Roman Roads

The Romans built several thousand kilometers of roads throughout the Empire that formed a complex communication network consisting of various types of roads.The importance of the road, together with the geography of the places it was travelling, determined, to some extent, the constructive system chosen in each case.

Despite this, most Roman roads share a number of common aspects. For its construction the ground was excavated to a firm level that served as a drainage and seat of the upper layers consisting of earth and stones that served to obtain a solid structure. Finally, a cobblestone of large sies was arranged that paved the road giving them its characteristic appearance, whose vestiges have often endured to this day.


In the wake of the Roman roads it was often necessary to carry out other infrastructure works that facilitated their journey through places of difficult relief. On the slopes of the mountainous areas were erected side walls of containment or shells (from which the name of roadway derives) while in the passage of the streams or rivers were built from small sewers to large bridges, some of which constituted real boasts of engineering, for which complex cimbra systems were used.


The mastery of construction techniques in Roman times is evident in the construction of large bridges that two thousand years later are great monuments, while still fulfilling their original function.

The Movements on the Roman Road

In Roman times long-haul displacements were carried out in cavalry and in various types of carriage.

In general, these were rudimentary vehicles that made travel slow and numerous post changes needed. Therefore, along the roads were distributed resting places of various types. The simplest were the so-called mutations or small facilities aimed only at resting and supplying and changing chivalry.


But there were also other facilities of greater importance, called mansions, that offered the traveler other services and that often coincided with cities. In other cases, the continuous transit along the road caused a city to emerge around these mansions.

To know the distance traveled and the remaining path to the resting place following the travelers who transited the roads had the so-called milestones. These consisted of cylindrical and large stone landmarks in which, in addition to the information of road signs, other aspects related to the road were collected such as the time of construction and the name of the reigning emperor or the repairs carried out along the way.

The communications system in the Roman world reached considerable importance and came to affect other aspects such as religion, which had minor deities to protect travelers and roads. Occasionally, small altars dedicated to these gods known as lares were placed along the track.


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