Ampurias Tourist Attractions
The excavations of the ancient Greek town of Emporion, now Ampurias (Catalan Empúries), lie just above the sea on the Costa Brava, 35km/ 22mi northwest of Gerona, with extensive views of the promontories to north and south. The nearby village bears the name of San Martín de Ampurias (Catalan Sant Martí de Empúries).HistoryIn the 6th century B.C. a Greek settlement, probably called Kypsela but known to archaeologists as Palaiopolis, was established on an island at the mouth of the Río Fluviá. Soon, however, the increasing numbers of settlers made it necessary to establish a new settlement on the mainland to the south. This was called Emporion (in Greek, "market"), and now, under the name of Neapolis ("new city"), constitutes the greater part of the excavation site. Between the two settlements was the harbor, now silted up. The Romans captured the Greek colony in the third century B.C., and during the Second Punic War the first Roman troops, led by Scipio Africanus, landed here to establish a diversionary front against Hannibal. In 195 B.C., the town was Cato the Elder's base in his campaign to subdue the Iberians. Finally Caesar established a colony of veterans which flourished particularly in the A.D. first and second centuries. The decline of the city, which in early Christian times became the see of a bishop, began with the Frankish and Alemannic incursions. When the town of La Escala was founded nearby in the 17th century the ruins of Emporion became a quarry of building material. The first excavations were carried out by the Spanish archaeologist Emilio Gandía y Ortega.
The lower town is entered through the remains of a once massive town gate. Beyond this is a small square, to the left of which are the remains of a temple dedicated to the god of healing Asklepios (Aesculapius), with a cast of a statue which was found here. Adjoining are the foundations of another temple, probably dedicated to Hygeia, Asklepios's consort. On the far side of the square was a large temple of Zeus Serapis (seen as a fusion of Zeus and Asklepios). From here the broad main street leads to the Agora (market place), near which is an Early Christian basilica. Farther on are remains of mosaic pavements in geometric designs.
In the lower town of Ampurias is the museum, housed in the church of a former Servite monastery. In addition to the original of the statue from the temple of Asklepios the Museum displays models and finds from the site illustrating the life of an ancient Greek and Roman town.
Beyond the Ampurias Museum the ground rises to the site of the Roman town. The first house entered is House I, a model of which, based on the work of the Roman architectural writer Vitruvius (first century B.C.), can be seen in the Museum. Remains of pavement mosaics have been left in situ. The decoration of the rather smaller House II is similar. Beyond this is the Forum, with the main street, the cardo maximus, running into it on the south. This leads to the main gate, on the stone threshold of which are the marks left by wheeled traffic.
Map of Ampurias Attractions