Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Visiting Empuries, where ancient Greece and Rome collide

From Empuries looking out to sea 
I've talked before here about the incredible Roman ruins to be discovered along the south of France and Spain, particular examples springing to mind at Italica, Nimes and Arles. We struck lucky again this week with our visit to the archaeological site of Empuries where we explored not only the ruins of a Roman city, but also the Greek town that pre-dated and then existed alongside it until the fall of the Roman Empire which led to both eventually being abandoned.

Entry to Empuries is excellent value at €5 for me and €4 for Dave which included an audioguide each. We began by watching a short film that gave an overview of the twin city sites, then walked around each city in turn. The audioguides were very good and really helped to bring what we saw to life for us. There are few explanatory signs so Empuries would just have been half an hour of baffling low stone walls otherwise! Instead we spent a good couple of hours walking around listening to our guides. This was in part also due to my having pulled a muscle in my back the day before which made walking, and especially going up and down steps, slow going.

Statue of Asklepios 
We were a little disappointed that all the mosaic floors are covered in gravel to protect them during the winter months so we didn't get to see these. However there is also a small museum on site displaying a wide variety of artefacts from pottery to jewels and glassware. The highlight here is a full size statue of Asklepios, a Greek god of medicine. He is made from two types of marble - a softer one for the curves of his head and shoulders, and a harder one to achieve the folds of his clothing. It's amazing that both pieces survived together for so many centuries. There is also an amazing small mosaic of a mythical scene which even manages to show detail such as muscle definition just with tiny coloured blocks.

Empuries is on the outskirts of L'Escala which we didn't get to explore this time around. After our Empuries visit, we went to the seafront promenade for a delicious tapas lunch though before driving home. We are happy to recommend the cafe Le Basilic!


  1. Oh, to stand on the same ground where legends once stood! Truly fascinating places to be. Sigh. Hopefully when I win the lottery. Lol.

    1. It does feel amazing to visit places with so much history!

  2. Oh wow this is so cool! I would love to go somewhere like this, because I am a huge fan of both Roman and Greek history. It is a shame about the mosaic tiles being covered though :( It sounds like you managed to have a good time regardless though.

    1. Yes, we ought to go back in the Spring when all the mosaics can be viewed. Their pictures online look stunning


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