Sunday, August 9, 2009

Baelo Claudia and Garum

In my post yesterday I brought you to my favorite beach in Bolonia. I promised I would share a little bit of the interesting history of this little town. Today Bolonia is a small isolated fishing village on the Spanish Atlantic Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light) about 20 km north from the surfers paradise of Tarifa. But this little unimportant village is also the site of one of the most important Roman archaeologiacal excavations in Andalucia .


The beautiful museum catches your eyes the moment you drive into this secluded village.


Baelo Claudia was settled by the Romans some 2000 years ago and was a trade link between Spain and North Africa. It was probably most famous for producing the fish-based paste, garum, a popular relish used as a garnish in meals by the Roman inhabitants.


The garum was prepared from fish gut, layered in salt and cured in the sun for one to three months, where the mixture fermented and liquified in the dry warmth. (Mmm... yummy!) The actual production of garum created such unpleasant smells as to become relegated to the outskirts of cities so that the neighbors would not be offended by the odour.

The best garum fetched prices similar to the essences used in perfumes. It was the "caviar" of the Roman Empire. After the liquid garum was ladled off of the top of the mixture, the remains of the fish gut, called allec, was used by the poorest classes to flavour their porridge. The garum from Baelo Claudia was shipped to Roma and enjoyed by the privileged classes. It addition to being used as a relish, it was also used to treat dog bites, dysentery, ulcers, constipation and chronic diarrhea. If smeared on the face it was used to remove unwanted hair and freckles!



Walking on history... awesome. If only these stones could speak!



The city was eventually successful enough to be granted the title of municipium by Emperor Claudius.

The life of the inhabitants reached its greatest splendor during the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD. In the middle of the 2nd century, however, the town suffered a series of earthquakes and a great tidal wave which wiped out a large part of the town. In addition to such natural disasters, by the 3rd century, the town was beset by hordes of pirates, both Celtic and Barbary. By the 6th century, the town had been abandoned.

What a location! I wonder how life was like here 2000 years ago? And how did it smell?

As we walked around the archeological site of Baelo Claudia we noticed the most representative elements of the typical Roman city. There is a circular protective wall, the main gate, administrative buildings, the public archive, the forum, the judicial building, a temple to the Egyptian goddess Isis, as well as temples to Juno, Jupiter, and Minerva. In addition, there are remnants of stores, a market, baths, and a theater.

Inside the museum you can see different artifacts, but even more impressive is walking around the path that circles the town. Even the children enjoyed this tour. Of course we promised them the beach when we were done!

This place is well worth a visit. And if it's during the summer months - bring swimwear!

Check here for opening hours.

10 comments:

Amy said...

How pretty and what fun all of you had.

Samsmama said...

Kansas City reporting for duty! :)

Bautiful photos and very interesting info! Thank you for sharing! And I'm extremely jealous!

Thoughtfully blended hearts said...

Gorgeous photos...they make me want to travel...
thanks so much for the comments on my blog...I've only been using my camera for about six months and I have really enjoyed playing with it...

Becky

Unknown Mami said...

Boy have I enjoyed my visit! Bellisimo!! Muchisimas gracias.

lesleehorner said...

What a beautiful blog you have. I look forward to reading and seeing more of it. Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

michelle said...

Very cool info. Especially about the fish gut paste.
And beautiful picts. I'm wishing I was on that beach right now...

Caroline said...

What breathtaking photos...thanks for stopping by. I love discovering new blogs and meeting new people.

Karen said...

So beautiful!

I was in France a couple of years ago and the thing that amazes me about Europe and other places is the way there are layers of history right on top of each other. It's incredible to hear about a place that existed thousands of years ago and to imagine all of the major world events that place has witnessed.

Life with Kaishon said...

Wow! So fascinating and pretty! Awfully glad I stopped over today to see your gorgeous pictures and learn more about this! WOW!

Bev said...

Gorgeous! Stunning! What a lovely vacation. :)

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