Mérida, in the province of Badajoz, is the capital of Extremadura, with an area of 866 km² and about 60,000 inhabitants.
The city was founded in 25 BC by the Roman Emperor Augustus and became the capital of the Roman province of Hispania Lusitania. The Roman name of the city was Emerita Augusta, from which the current name derives. Mérida became one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire and many monuments from that time have survived. Indeed, in Mérida, you stumble, so to speak, over the historical monuments. The main ones are the Teatro Romano, the Amfiteatro Romano and the Circo Romano, which can hold 30,000 spectators, with a length of 400 meters and a height of 100 meters. The Roman Bridge over the Guadiana, the Los Milagros Aquaduct and Temple of Diana are just a few of the other important monuments.
In the early Middle Ages the city was repeatedly besieged by the Visigoths, who made it the capital of their empire in the sixth century. This empire included almst the entire Iberian Peninsula. During this time Christianity spread strongly in this area, and Mérida became a cathedra and as a consequence a cathedral was built. In 713 the Arabs conquered large parts of Spain and Mérida was completely destroyed. In 1230, during the Reconquista, the Christian forces led by Alfonso IX of León recaptured Mérida.
In the 20th and 21st centuries Mérida has become an industrial centre and is a junction for several railway lines. Interest in the major archaeological sites has grown continually and in 1993, the monuments where placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. During the process of democratisation in the 70's, Mérida became the capital and administrative centre of Extremadura.
The monuments keep the history of many centuries of the city alive. In harmony with that history Mérida is today a modern city, which is reflected in modern and functional new buildings.