Arch of Medinaceli

Arch of Medinaceli
Arch of Medinaceli

From the Roman civilization we have received countless cultural heritages in almost any field. Also in the field of architecture, from its amphitheatres, which are the origin of many of our sports venues, to the idea of ​​the basilica floor plan, which was later applied to the concept of many churches. Well, another type of construction that continued to be carried out many centuries after the Roman culture became extinct, were the so-called Triumphal Arches. Of which there are such recent examples as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, built in the 19th century.


Medinaceli Roman Arch

The success and longevity of this type of construction is due to the fact that many of these triumphal arches have survived to this day. There are them in Rome, the capital of the Empire, like the great Arch of Constantine, but there are also them scattered throughout many places they conquered. As is the case of the Arco de Medinaceli which is in the province of Soria, belonging to the region of Castilla y León in Spain.

To begin with, it must be said that the Roman Arch of Medinaceli is the only one from that period with three spans that has been preserved in Spain. It would have been built around the 1st century, at a point on the Roman road that linked the cities of Emerita Augusta (Mérida) and Caesaraugusta (Zaragoza). Precisely at a high point in the landscape, on a hill where theold celtiberian city of Ocilis.

The truth is that its exposure to the strong winds of this cold area of ​​central Spain has meant that almost none of its ornamental decoration has arrived, although its structure is almost intact. A situation that makes it visible from many points in the environment, and that was one of the objectives of its builders, who wanted to create an impressive work.

It was built in masonry stone, and it has considerable dimensions. It exceeds 13 meters wide and 8 meters high, for a thickness of more than 2 meters. In this surface a central opening opens up that would be for the passage of carriages and also animals, while the side doors would be for the control of people. And it is that there would be some kind of walled enclosure around it, protecting the urban nucleus.

As we said, erosion has caused its ornamentation to be lost and it is also very difficult to read its inscriptions, something that would make its dating clear. However, as these data cannot be read clearly, scholars do not finish adjusting the time it was built, for some it could be during the reign of Trajano, for others fromDomitian, and some place it in the times of emperor Hadrian. In any case, it is clear that it is a jewel of the imperial period in Hispania.

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