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The Roman Walls of Lugo

Lugo in Spain

The Roman Walls of Lugo. The 2.200 meters long monument in Northern Spain has been declared Unesco World Heritage Site in the year 2000.

Although I am almost two thousand years old, they all say that I have been conserved pretty well. We can say that I am good-looking…My memory is not what it used to be because the years take their toll, but I am here, watching calmly as the world goes by, ready to tell my stories to those who are willing to listen.

I am big and hard. I am made of slate stones combined with lime mortar, gravel and sand. In some parts (especially in the doors) I am made of granite. Also, this material reinforces my 85 towers. Well, if I have to be honest, I only have 71, the others have been collapsing like all the elderly lose their teeth. But I’m very proud of those that I still have: sixty of them are circular, and eleven of them are square, like my perimeter, which is relatively quadrangular.

Have I said that I am about 2,200 metres long and between four and seven feet wide, depending on the section? I have to be strong because I was conceived and created a long, long time ago. Also, I am quite tall, between eight and fifteen meters. Not bad, huh?

I was saying that I was designed a long time ago following the rules of the famous engineer Vitruvius, in what was then called “La arboleda de Augusto” (well, my builders called it “Lucus Avgvsti” in their language, perhaps that is why it is now called Lugo). I rose slowly, taking nearly half a century for me to be finished (between the second half of the third century and the first half of the fourth) but the result was worth the wait. Even now, many people wonder why they built me leaving a part of the city outside of my protection. There are many theories about this. I know the reason, but that is another story.

When they built me, the men were afraid of some enemies whom they called “barbarians” and those who came from the north. I have seen many battles, and many flags: eagles faced with solar discs, half moon crescents colliding with crosses, three colored flags against others with only two…but nobody got me flinching.

My towers were wonderfully designed, hiding military crossbows and catapults to repel the attacks of those who wore skins. Access to my interior could only be made with wooden ladders that could be easily lifted and therefore isolate the enemies.

Although I was conceived with five doors, I now have ten. The most recent five being from the 19th and 20th centuries and now some of them allow strange colored carriages that produce smoke and a rather annoying noise to pass through me. But I am not complaining. I have to be stoic.

The “lucenses”, which is what the inhabitants of the city are called, are proud of me and walk around the circular path on top of me, including once a year, when some crazy people face the December cold and run over my back in a middle distance race.

A while ago, in the year that you would call 2000, some learned people from Unesco gave me the honor of being bestowed with the title of World Heritage Site because they say I am the only one of my kind that remains intact and so complete. A little later, in 2007, I was connected with a colleague who lives a long way away, in a country called China, in Quinhuangdao.

When you come to Lugo, be sure to go through the Plaza del Campo in the center of my perimeter, where there is an Interpretation Center about me. There you will be given all the details that might interest you, and you can follow the wonderful explanations of a guide called Elena who knows everything there is to know. She brings visitors to get to know me and shows them my secrets. I like Elena and I know that she likes me too.

If you come in June, the “lucenses” celebrate a fantastic festival on the 13th,14th and 15th  remembering the time of my construction; and all of the old town (that is inside me) is transformed into a roman town with clothes, utensils, food and drinks of this era. This celebration is called “Arde Lvcvs.”

I hope that you can visit me and that you enjoy the history that I protect between my towers. By the way, I had forgotten to introduce myself: I am the Roman Wall of Lugo.