Roman Village of Salar is a small town with population of about 2,600 located in the Loja region, west of the province of Granada, about 35 minutes from the capital.
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It is believed that its name comes from the romance “Sall”, from the Latin “Sallere” (salt) and its meaning would be “rough, rough terrain, with many ravines”.
The area was already inhabited during the Upper Neolithic, in which remains of the Acheulean culture have been found. It would later be occupied by the Romans (which is what we are going to focus on).
Then it would be the Arabs who would populate the area until the conquest of the Christians on May 29, 1486 by Hernán Pérez del Pulgar y Osorio. The Torreón del Salar is preserved from this period.
The remains of the Roman villa were found in 2004 while the land was being excavated for the construction of a wastewater treatment plant.
The archaeological excavation began in October 2006 and continues today, as it is believed that around 10% of the town has been excavated. Numerous truly spectacular Roman mosaics have been found, as well as a statue of a 2nd century Venus pudica that will remain for display in the municipality.
The town stands out for the ostentation in the decoration of its mosaics, authentic works of art and in the Venuses, sculptures of great beauty that surprise for their state of conservation and in the archaeological discovery.
History of the village
Its construction dates from between the 1st and 4th centuries and it was located near one of the most important Roman communication routes in the Betica province, which, in turn, was one of the most important provinces for exporting wheat, oil and wine. .
During its period of greatest splendor, between the 1st and 3rd centuries, its inhabitants made their status and economic power clear by building a truly luxurious villa with a peristyle.
Visiting the village
Entering the large tent we find ourselves in the center with the triclinium, which was the dining room and the most important room of the house in which banquets and parties were organized. The room is paved with a spectacular polychrome mosaic of plant and geometric motifs, while the baseboards of the walls were covered with marble plates and opus sectile compositions.
The bad thing is that a large part of the mosaic was destroyed by the action of the excavator shovel that worked on the construction of the water plant.
At the east end of the triclinium was the peristyle fountain. The exact shape of this fountain cannot be confirmed, but it is believed that it had a monumental fountain in the center and was surrounded by an interior garden. There was also a semicircular space in front of it, like an exedra, with mosaic paving, which could have functioned as a viewpoint into the landscaped courtyard.
There was also a perimeter channel, of opus signinum, which is attached internally to the walls that define this peristyle, and which collected rainwater, which fell from the roofs of the surrounding corridors, to store it in a possible deposit that would be found under the monumental fountain.
To the west of the triclinium is the access to it. In front of this we find the eastern corridor of the peristyle, which connects it with the triclinium. The flooring of said corridor is covered with a magnificent figurative mosaic depicting marine scenes, while the walls were decorated with frescoes. In it, the figure of a Nereid riding on a kethos or sea monster stands out, quite well preserved. The Nereids were the princesses of the Mediterranean and personify the fertility and grace of the sea.
Here we can also find the vaulted room, whose function is unknown and which is barely preserved.
We leave this tent and enter a slightly smaller one to the west. This part is even more spectacular than the previous one.
It is the front of the villa, the entrance. Here we find a space attached to the south of the first room, which opens onto the western corridor. The mavimento is decorated with a black and white mosaic with various framed motifs surrounded by a border, the result of a subsequent reform.
Next we find the western corridor. In it we find throughout its length a spectacular polychrome mosaic wonderfully preserved with hunting scenes, in which plant elements of the landscape are interspersed with leopards, wild boars and horseback riders.
Here we also find part of two other rooms equally richly decorated with black and white mosaics, and surrounded by decorative borders.
The spectacular decoration dedicated to the residence of the Dominus of this town indicates the economic power and the preeminent social position of its inhabitants.
The truth is that the villa is the most spectacular of the Roman villas that I have visited in Spain and perhaps in Europe. And, disinterestedly, I have to say that we can only visit 10% due to lack of funding and that, the more visitors it has, the more money there will be to continue digging and one day be able to contemplate it in its entirety. Who knows the treasures hidden in the enormous layer of earth that covers it.
How to get there:
The Roman villa of Salar is located 48 km from the center of the city of Granada, about 40 minutes by car. To get there we must take the A-92 motorway towards Malaga. We take exit 197 towards “Salar – Alhama de Granada” and follow the A-4155 road for approximately 1 km. The entrance to the villa is well signposted.
If we come from Malaga, we find it about 78 km, 55 minutes by car from the center of Malaga. To do this we must take the A-45 motorway towards Granada. After about 33 km, take exit 114 towards Granada. We go along the A-92 motorway for about 45 km until exit 197. We go along the A-4155 road for about 1 km until we reach the entrance to the town.
Visits to the Village
There are 3 types of visits to the village:
Guided visit to the interpretation center and the town: the archaeological site is visited: Villa Romana de Salar and the Villa Romana de Salar interpretation center. Includes guided tour and entrance.
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, at 9 and 12. Duration: 2.5 hours. Price: €3 ($3.30).
Semiprivate Excursion: Villa Romana de Salar from Granada: In it you visit the interpretation center of the Villa Romana. Walk through the town of Salar. Archaeological site.
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday at 11. Duration: 5 hours. Price: €69 ($76) per person. Maximum 15 people.
Private visit to the Roman Villa of Salar: in it you will visit the archaeological site: Villa Romana de Salar and the Villa Romana de Salar interpretation center. Interpreter guide of the Villa, with Official Tourist Guide and tickets for the Villa meeting point and Interpretation Center of the Villa de Salar.
Hours: at 9 and 12. Duration: 2.5 hours. Price: between 1 and 3 visitors: €120 ($133). Between 3 and 10 visitors: €170 ($188).
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