WORKS OF ENGINEERING
Mapa de la principales vias romanas
Map of the main Roman ways in Hispania

 
Roman world was very large and it had to be well communicated. That is why an important net of routes was designed for the whole land. It let social and economic relations increase and also let armies advance in an easy way in order to help different populations. These tracks and ways came along mountains and big rivers. In order to get it Romans had to built mountain ports and solid fixed bridges.
 
Romans also had to take drinkable water to towns -aqueducts and tanks- and eliminating residues from them in a clean and efficient way -system of gutters-.
 
Travelling by sea was really important for militar and comercial reasons. Because of that many constructions were built by the coast in order to communicate cities: ports and light-houses.
Calzada romana de Valencia de Alcántara en Cáceres
Roman route in
Valencia de Alcantara in Caceres

(Bank of Images in
National Center for Information and Educational Communication)

 
So, the following engineering works can be marked:
  • Routes
     
    An important net of routes communicated the whole Roman world. It was a radial one and had its origin at Rome. Because of that it was said: "every way leads to Rome". As Romans conquered new lands they immediately were endowed with routes in order to join oppida, military points and cities.
     
    Every route could have a different quality: the terrenae, -of earth- were very single, the glarea stratae -a stoned way with pebbles or little rolling stones- or the silice stratae -made out of middle size stones-.
    The most important route was built at the best times of Empire. It led to the greatest cities. It measured 1 m. wide and was composed by these elements:
    • The statumen or foundations that fit to the conditions of every ground.
    • The rudus, a surface of pebbles and rubbish on the foundations.
    • The nucleus, directly on the rudus there was a mixture of sand and lime pressed with pebbles.
    • The pavimentum-summa crusta or summa dorsum-, of flat stones fit with pebbles and metallic little pieces. Its surface was elevated at some areas and slightly rounded in order to elimimate rainy waters.
    Seccion de la calzada
    At both sides there were little canals for recollecting and conducting waters. It was marked with big stones that indicated distance measured in milliarii. Some of them, at cities or close to cities got elevated sidewalks for people.
     
  • Bridges
     
    Many of Hispanoromanic bridges are still used: part as they were created in its original way and others reconstructed. Roman engineers were true masters building them, since constructions were essential elements for reaching places and cities often situated at the bank of rivers. This location was due to defensive and infrastructural reasons -supply and drainage-. It is clear that the net of Roman ways in Peninsula had to be endowed with many bridges, and they were in fact constructed.
     
    A lot of bridges built in Middle Ages were erroneously taken for Romans. That is why a list of provisional features must be given to set the Roman origin of constructions:
    • Not pointed archs.
    • Constructions of ashlar masonry often with pad shape.
    • Route of more than 5 m. wide.
    • Route of horizontal or slightly combed surface "few curved".
    • Rectangular pillars from their basis with lateral triangular or circular cutwaters that end before the railings.

     
    Many bridges are important in Hispania:
    Alzado del primer arco del Puente de Alconetar
    Elevation of the first arch of Bridge of Alconetar
     
    Alzado y planta del Puente de Alconetar
    Elevation and plan of the Bridge of Alconetar
    Press to enlarge.

     
    Alzado y planta del Puente de Caparra
    Elevation and plan of the Bridge of Caparra
    Press to enlarge.

    They are also outstanding:
    • In Route of Silver
      • Bridge over Algarrebas river and Alcantarilla in Merida Page of Emerita Augusta city
      • Bridge of Alconetar over Tajo river, in Caceres. The few remainings today preserved are kept in a meadow, close to its original location, since the latter is today covered by the waters of Alcantara dam. Scholars think that it originally got 16 archs -only 4, belonging to one of the bases, exist today- of ca.300 m. long and 6,50 m. wide. Archs are segmental, instead of round. Both first archs show a Roman construction; the others did suffer Medieval rebuildings. One of the remaining supports gets three cornices -a decoration more luxuriant than the usual- of a remarkable size for a bridge over a river as important as Tajo. Built with big worked stones they got a triangular cutwater for the upper side and a semicircular little wall for covering the other one. Supportings of segmental archs on the pillars can still be seen.
      • Bridge of Caparra over Ambroz river, at Oliva de Plasencia, Caceres. It was probably built at the age of August Emperor close to the city of Capera. It is small: 65 m. long and 7,30 m. wide, though originally 5,50 m., being added almost two ms. wide in 1955. A façade was replaced: the one closer to the running-down. Only both central archs are constructed by Romans, as a result of the many and careless modifications it suffered. Its vaults keep the building of worked ashlars departing from round archs. Central pillar of 3,80 m. wide shows a triangular cutwater. Gates of central archs -the Roman ones- are 8,70 m. and 8,90 m. long
      • Bridge of Segura over Eljas river. It is composed by five archs but only two at both extremes are of a Roman factory. The other three ones keep the original supports and their vaults belong to a Medieval factory. Roman ashlars are padded and supports get a triangular cutwater.

    • At August Way:
      • Bridge of Cordoba over Guadalquivir riverPage of the city of Corduba
      • Bridge of the Devil over Llobregat river, in Martorell, Barcelone. Partially rebuilt in many cases, its actual look and design is nearly Medieval. Only the Roman Honorary Arch placed at one of the enterings remains from its original design.
      • Bridge of Alcantarilla over the Salty river of Moron in Seville. It is composed by two symmetric round archs of 8,90 m. long that mark vaults of 6 m. wide. The central support lost its cutwater.
      • Bridge of Los Pedroches, in Cordoba. It is a three round archs bridge being the central 4,50 m. and the lateral ones 1,90 m. Vaults are 4,90 m. wide. It should be pointed out that a part of the voussoirs are crimped, a rare technique in Roman architecture. Its state of preservation is ruinous.
      • Bridge of Villa del Rio, in Cordoba. With crimped voussoirs, and padded ashlars. It is composed by four round archs and two gutters in the supports of the central arch. Cutwaters are lost, probably buried.

    There are also many bridges that preserve any part of their Roman construction: Castellar and Palmero in Cuenca, those of Matapozuelos and Valdestillas in Valladolid; Trespuentes one in Alava; Aluenda in Zaragoza and Roman Ponte Romano in Lugo.
     
  • Aqueducts and Tanks.
     
    Acueducto
    Aqueduct of Termantia
    Press to enlarge
    Aqueducts were built in order to avoid geographic irregularities between fountains or rivers and towns. Not only valleys were crossed by superposed cannals, but also mountains were excavated by long tunnels, pits and levels of maintenance. Following ones must be pointed out:
     

      There were other minor aqueducts that implied great works of engineering, as Aqueduct of Termantia, with more than 3.300 ms. long and a great part of it directly excavated on stone.
    Almonacid de la Cuba
    A section of the tank of Almonacid de la Cuba.
    Press to enlarge.

     
    Tanks were used for storing water in order to supply big towns every season in the year. Very outstanding are those of:
    • Tank of Proserpina, in Merida.
    • Tank of Cornalvo, in Merida.
    • Tank of Almonacid de la Cuba, that stored waters from Aguasvivas river at Zaragoza. It is the higher Roman tank in Peninsula being 34 m. It is composed by a heavy and solid structure that encloses a narrow point of the river. With a nucleus of lime-and-stone -opus caementicium- and two walls of ashlar -opus incaertum-, at each side. The exterior part is reinforced with grades of ashlar constructed without stuff.
    • The tank of the Hermitage of the Pilar Virgin, store the waters of a minor river: the Moyuela, tributary of Aguasvivas river in Monforte de Moyuela, Zaragoza. 20 m. remain from the beginning of the dyke.

     
  • Ports and Lighthouses.
     
    Roman ships and those for commercial trade should travel from port to port with the speed and security adequate to the life of a great Empire. In these ports every necessity for the execution of the usual works in a port ensemble should be found: gateways with stores and bureaux, shipyards for stationing ships, roads for taking ships to earthly ground, drinkable water fountains and machinery for loading and downloading merchandises.
     
    Indeed, a system of indication was necessary in order to mark the right access and exit to the port.
     
    In Hispania are outstanding:
     
    Indeed, there were at least two lighthouses that never came to the present days. Both shared a structure of grades in many floors -three or four- that gave them a respectable highness:
    • Lighthouse of "Cadiz" had a punic origin. It was used and modified by Romans. Number of documents have increased in our days because of the discovering of some drawnings in charcoal on a wall. They are supposed to represent this lighthouse.
    • Lighthouse of "Chipiona", called turris Caepionis, the most important at its age in Peninsula. It was built by Quintus Servilius Sepion, following the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria as its model. It was crowned by a big bronze statue.