Cordoba Monuments: Roman Temple  

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Columns rising over the foundations of Cordoba's Roman Temple
Photo by J.Entrenas

Columns of the Cordoba's Roman Temple stand on the eastern limit of the first expanse of the Roman city, whose streets were laid and walls were erected during the Republic. This temple, whose foundations and altar remain intact, once honored the emperor who lifted the city out of poverty and ruin following a bloody civil war which cost 20,000 of its citizens' lives.

Following Julius Caesar's devastating attack on Cordoba, which had sided with Pompey's sons, the city sank into a period of decadence. However, it was not long before Cordoba returned to importance.

Caesar's successor, Augustus, granted veterans from his wars in northern Europe land in Corduba, to which he gave the honorable status of colonia patricia. (One may be reminded of the Ridley Scott film, Gladiator, and the fictional Maximus's villa in Hispania). Archaeologists believe that Cordoba's thankful citizens built a provincial forum, a large square built on artificially leveled ground, jutting out slightly from the city walls, and surrounded on three sides by columned porticos, in honor of their emperor and his family. In the imperial cult, the emperor was worshipped as a living divinity, and the impressive temple, visible for miles, was a powerful symbol of imperial power.

Around this time, the newly prosperous city expanded, tearing down its southern wall and extending the city limits to the river. Other important buildings were erected as well. Downhill to the east, overlooked by the temple, was the circus; and to the southeast was the theatre, the largest in Hispania. In 2003, archaeologists discovered one of the largest amphitheatres in the Roman empire just west of the city.

Sources: [Vaquerizo Gil , p.23-6, 50-1, addendum]

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©2005 Tony Reed