Merida: bread, circus and a museum


Over to the south east of Plaza España, the side away from the larger tourist focus and not far from the bull ring, is small town Spain, yes, in the middle of this city. The bakery opens daily and has great bread. I especially like their ‘Viena’, a type of wide roll, not as crusty as some. Goes very well with the special cheese from this area, torta de Casa, the one where you cut off the top and dip bread into the soft contents.

Nearby are a couple of cafeterias and a churrería, all around the Plaza, a concreted area surrounded by a few banks of benches and with a couple of stalwart deciduous trees. If I came back late morning the benches would be occupied by old men. I like this part of Merida. Not necessarily as attractive but, interesting.


A km or so north west of this area is the site of the old Roman circus. Not a lot to see. More interesting is that no one seems to have done much restoration.

It’s sometimes surprising how little of most monuments is real, original, with the stones or bricks actually having been laid by the romans or the group to which it’s attributed. However, two thousand years is a long time and it was unlikely that huge unused monuments would be maintained, unchanged, forever by anyone. Especially when the area was subsequently conquered by lots of other groups, like the different Visigoth tribes here and, later, the Moores. And later again, the christians and still later Franco’s mob. On and on it’s gone. Laying, relaying, decay, relaying, decay….

Among the old photos in the museum are some showing the state of the Roman theatre in Merida prior to reconstruction. Not a lot was left intact and I’m guessing it and the surrounding land, like the Parthenon in Rome, was used for farming. Same with the circus.

I’m wondering if the aqueduct is different, perhaps largely unchanged over time as it would be difficult to pull out a few stones or bricks for your new place.

It remains one of my favourite parts of Merida. And left me wondering how the romans measured height above sea level as they had to calculate the fall for this aqueduct over the 6km from their local cistern to the nearby reservoir.

Oh, and the storks who now have babies!

The Roman bridge is neat and a little of that is original. Five dinghies in the water today each seemed to be picking up rubbish from around the shoreline. Odd. At first I thought they were fishing but the fluro vests and their interest in the shoreline made me wonder.

Spoke to a local and she told me they were picking up bits of a troublesome weed. Made more sense. She kept extolling the virtues of Roman Merida so I asked her what she thought of Medellin, another well preserved Roman site, about 30km away. In her entire 70 years she has never been there. Never! She hastened to tell me where she’d been. No, not out of Spain but to Madrid.

Not much really remains of the Alcazar and it’s a bit less than 1,000 years old.

I still like Trajan’s arch.

And find it amazing how far below the current road level it is. You can see from a remaining door by its side. How impressive it must have been before the marble facing disappeared.


Actually visited a couple. Yes, more Roman road and marble statues, one of Ceres the god of agriculture and a guy with a 6-pack+. And a little wall painting from a Roman mansion.

And I was so impressed by the juxtaposition of an original Roman column against the inside of the modern museum.

Notwithstanding all the history of Merida, the locals remain as diverse as in any other place. The beggar looks like her many family members across spain, usually outside a church or supermarket. Baptisms of babies continue. And I had a particular sympathy with a guy represented in a statue commemorating all those that have made possible the celebrations of Santa Semana in Merida. His hat is by his side as he massages his poor foot! So yes, personal.


Ah yes, you were asking about R toe 5. The most recently offending toenail is off! Pulled it out yesterday. Ahhhhh, relief. The skin should close over soon. I could almost wear boots again, walk seriously but it’s now not going to happen this trip.

I’m tied into a travel week. And I need to get feet sandal-ready for a trip to Cambodia, coming up soon.


2 thoughts on “Merida: bread, circus and a museum

  1. Hi Val -I’ve finally subscribed & am now trying to catch up with your journey. Merida brings back memories – Alvin, Jean-Paul & I visited the Roman ruins & I thought the Museum was architecturally magnificent! I remember the amazing aqueduct, the cheese & the clacking of the storks! I so want to walk again! I love your photos, which convey more than words travel well Val & I shall travel vicariously with you.


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