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Mérida (Spain)

Photo © Colin_Patterson

Travel Guide Europe Spain Extremadura Mérida

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Introduction

Merida, Roman Arena

Merida, Roman Arena

© All Rights Reserved Herr Bert

Mérida is a city in the central Spanish region of Extremadura. Mérida was founded by the Romans in 25 A.D. and named Emerita Augusta. I grew to become one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire. Remains testifying of this status can still be found in and around the city. Together with the other old cities in the region, Caceres and Trujillo, it makes a good visit for people interested in Roman history.

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Neighbourhoods

The city is split into two parts by the river Guadiana. The mean sights, as well as the train station are to be found on the western bank.

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Sights and Activities

Merida, Roman Theater

Merida, Roman Theater

© All Rights Reserved Herr Bert

Roman Merida

The main sights in Mérida are the Roman amphitheatre, and Roman theatre which are to be found next to each other in the middle of town. There is a route you can follow which takes you first to the amphitheatre, and then to the theatre. There are many more Roman sites to be found all over town, like the Acueducto de los Milagros, the Puento Roman and even a Circus Maximus, which was modelled on the Circus Maximus in Rome, about 500 metres to the northwest of the theatre. There are day tickets which gives you entrance to a couple of these sights and to the Roman Museum. A small tourist train which leaves from the sight at the theatre makes a round through town and is actually a nice way to explore the sights before rushing of to see some in greater detail.

Other sights

  • Cathedral of Saint Mary Major (13th-14th centuries)
  • Renaissance Ajuntamento (Town Hall)
  • Church of Santa Clara (17th century)
  • Gothic church of Nuestra Señora de la Antigua (15th-16th centuries)
  • Baroque church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen (18th century)

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Weather

The weather in Extremadura is like the name of the province: extreme! In summer it can be incredibly hot, and in the winter it can be bitterly cold at night. Average temperatures in summer go up until 35 °C, but on the hottest days of the year, easily will rise above 40 °C.

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Getting There

By Plane

The closest airport is the small airport near Badajoz (BJZ), which is served by Iberia, or its sister company Air Nostrum, with daily flights from Madrid and Barcelona. In most cases however it is easier and cheaper to go via either Madrid or Lisbon and continue by train or bus from there, which takes 3 to 5 hours.

By Train

There are train connections to the bigger cities in Extremadura. From Madrid, a train trip to Mérida takes about 4.5 to 6.5 hours, depending on which kind of train you are using. Check the Renfe website to get a precise idea about the time and expenses to travel to your destination.

By Car

Coming from Madrid, the most logical way is to take the A-5 in the direction of Badajoz. This motorway also passes Trujillo. From there you take the A58 until Cáceres, At Cáceres you need to change to the A-66 to reach Mérida, which lies south of Cáceres

By Bus

From Madrid, a ride takes about 5 hours. From the bus station in the bigger towns you can continue on regional buses to reach smaller places. The busstation can be found at the Avenida de Libertad, near to one of the bridges over the river.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet is widely available within Spain. Most airports have wifi-zones and in most towns there are internet cafés or shops where you can use internet for a fixed price. Wi-Fi points in bars and cafeterias are available after ordering, and most hotels offer Wi-Fi connection in common areas for their guests.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international access code for Spain is +34. The emergency number for police, ambulance and the fire brigade is 112.

In cities you can find plenty of public phones, and 'locutorios'. The latter are small shops where you can use the phone and use internet. Most of them also sell prepaid cards for mobile telephones. These shops are used a lot by foreigners to call to their mother country.

The main mobile network operators in Spain are Yoigo, Vodafone, Movistar and Orange, as in most of Europe voice and data coverage is generally good in urban areas however it can be patchy in rural locations. Cheap mobile phones (less than €50) with some pre-paid minutes are sold at FNAC or any phone operator's shop (Vodafone, Movistar, Orange). Topping-up is then done by buying scratch cards from the small stores, supermarkets, vending points (often found in tobacco shops) or kiosks.

Post

If you want to post a card, you can head to the post office (Correos). The Spanish post is not yet as efficient as colleagues in other countries so receiving a card can take a bit longer than the number of days that it should take. On the website of Correos, you can find the locations of nearby post offices.
Post offices are generally open from 8:30am to 2:00pm, although times will vary according to the size of the city/town and the main post offices might be open until the early evening. Most will also open again on Saturday mornings, but in the smaller towns will close as early as 12 noon. When posting a letter, look for a yellow box and, if possible, post at the post office itself where there will also be divisions for local, national and international mail. Be prepared for long queues at the post office. This is why tobacco shops sell stamps and many will also have the facility to weigh packages. Standard letters/postcards of up to 20 grams sent within Spain are €0.34. However, non-standard letters/postcards of up to 20g are €0.39. Letters/postcards of 20 to 50 grams are €0.45. In the case of international shipping, the price is €0.64 to most countries within Europe for standard envelopes (letters/postcards) up to 20g, for a few European countries and outside Europe it is €0.78. If you want to send a package you are probably better off with a private courier company like TNT, DHL or UPS, as they offer quick and reliable services against competitive prices.

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This is version 16. Last edited at 10:52 on Jan 14, 14 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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