The activity of the magistrates from the first generation of inhabitants in the city focused on building a strong 3-metre thick wall, formed by two faces of big blocks of calcarenite stone, arranged in opus quadratum, alternated in headers and stretchers with an internal layer of rubble and clay. All along the perimeter, square and circular towers were erected. The solid wall demarcated an irregular polygon of approximately 42 hectares.
The structure inside the city in the 2nd century BC shows very restrained buildings in Corduba. The walls were generally made of rough stone and river stones joined with clay, adobe and rammed earth. The pavement was very poor, such as made of stones or, even worse, with rammed earth. Consequently, the primitive city had mainly a defensive character, without any specific internal urban design.
However, in the turn of the 2nd to the 1st century BC, the building of some monuments is documented. Over the foundational remains, they found constructions with solid blocks of stone. The walls have a cladding called opus signinum and painted stucco. As for the supply of water, in this first period they paid special attention to the excavation of wells until the water table, and the collection of rainwater through cisterns. Latin historians claim the existence at the time of rich mansions and a forum used as a court where governors administered justice.
With Augustus’s arrival, and the proclamation of the city as Colonia Patricia, a new period of reconstruction began. It was in the turn of century, during the mandate of Emperor Augustus, when some remodelling works were carried out, which meant the beginning of a new Corduba. Recent archaeological excavations show that during the second half of the 2nd century BC, the city started to be rebuilt over the Republican buildings, following a very organized urban planning.
On one hand, the walled Republican space was widely extended, with a final surface of 78 hectares. This expansion of the pomerium (lat. past the wall) towards the river must have triggered its role, as it was in this moment when we can date the building of the bridge and the port. Inside the walls, an urban planning was developed, defined by blocks or insulae, and separated by wide streets with a complete and complex sewage system. In the junction of the main streets, Kardo Maximus and Decumanum Maximus, the colonial forum was located, in the vicinity of the current Church of San Miguel. On the other hand, the increase in population caused by this urban extension needed a great amount of water resources, thus an aqueduct was built, the Aqva Avgvsta or Aqueduct of Valdepuentes; as well as the proliferation of public fountains. At the end of Augustus’s times, the building of the Theatre started, making the most of a steep natural slope in the southeast of the walled space.
In early-Imperial times, the city acquired an excellent urban development, according to the role of capital of Province. The city grew beyond the walls, and new neighbourhoods or vici appeared. Also outside the walls, two buildings dedicated to performances were built: the Circus in the west - near Vía Augusta - and the Amphitheater– recently partly excavated in the area occupied by the Rectorship, of which we can barely give any information. In the same way, the main roads leaving the city saw the appearance of the necropolis; some of them, like the western and northern ones, of great size, which have left a proof of the skill achieved in the funerary architecture in Corduba (such as the Funerary Monuments of Puerta Gallegos, the monumental tombs of Puerta Sevilla and La Bodega Street, and the hypogeum of the Provincial Government).
The activity carried out by the magistrates continues inside with the building of two monumental squares. The first one, from the end of Claudio’s mandate, was located in the west of the city, with the Temple in Claudio Marcelo Street. The second one, built in Flavian times, was located in the vicinity of Jesús María and Ángel de Saavedra Streets. All this constructive whirlwind caused a higher demand of water, which was solved thanks to the construction of a second aqueduct, the Aqva Nova Domitiana Avgvsta, during Domiciano’s mandate. In the same way, the Capital was provided with a great hub of communications, whose remains can be seen in the Puente Romano del Arroyo Pedroche (Roman Bridge over Pedroche stream).
From the 3rd century AD, the city started to experience a new decline: abandonment and pillaging of public buildings, silting of water supply systems and assessment of sewage water, burial places inside the walls and a certain urban decrease in the north of the city in detriment of the southern part. This decline was only stopped by the building, outside the city, of the Palace of Emperor Maximianus, as well as the outstanding role of the city promoted by Osio.
If you are wondering what to visit in Córdoba, a good option would be Roman Córdoba, choosing one of our guided tours. This way you will learn everything about its urban planning. Choosing to do high quality sightseeing is choosing ArtenCórdoba.
Text: Fran Peña.