Are you an art history nerd? Game of Thrones fan? Lover of off-the-beaten-path sightseeing? Or are you simply looking for an excellent day trip from Seville?
If you answered yes to any (or all!) of these questions, then you have come to the right blog!
Just 20 minutes outside of Sevilla lies the Itálica roman ruins, and as someone who is obsessed with both Game of Thrones and ancient Rome (I did live in Italy for a year before moving to Spain, and studied art history!), I couldn’t recommend this day trip more!
Keep reading to discover how to get to Itálica, tips for visiting, and a little about the history behind this slice of ancient Rome tucked away in Andalusia.
Getting To Itálica
One of the best parts about this day trip from Seville is how easy it is. In fact, you’ll probably find that it is more of a half day trip.
Itálica is located only about 5 miles from Seville, with buses leaving frequently (typically every 30 minutes) from Sevilla’s Plaza de Armas.
To get there, simply hop on the 170 bus towards Santiponce. You can find the timetable here! With a bus card, each way only cost 1 Euro, meaning I only spent a total of 2 Euro getting to and from the ruins.
You’ll want to get off at the last stop, Itálica. There aren’t any announcements about which stop is which, so just pay attention when the bus starts to empty out. When in doubt, ask the driver!
Fortunately, the bus stop is just across the street from the ruins, so you can’t miss them.
Be sure to bring water, snacks, and comfortable walking shoes for your visit!
Cost and Visiting Hours
For EU citizens, entry to Itálica is free. If you are not an EU citizen, entry is only 1.50. I may or may not have said I was from England to avoid the entry fee. Shh! (In my defense, they weren’t checking passports and a friend advised me to do so after his visit!)
As of 2017, Itálica is open on the following days/times:
Be sure to double check the opening hours on the official website here before you go!
January 1 – March 31, September 16 – December 31:
- Tuesday to Saturday: 9.00-18.00
- Sunday and Public Holidays: 9.00-15.00
April 1 – June 15:
- Tuesday to Saturday: 9.00-20.00
- Sunday and public holidays: 10.00-15.00
June 16 – September 15:
- Tuesday to Sunday and Public Holidays: 09.00-15.00
Open on bank holidays, except:
January 1 and 6, May 1, December 24, 25, 26
Last entrance 30 minutes before closing time.
Closed on Mondays.
One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how much of the world Rome once controlled! While Rome once controlled all of Spain, the Roman settlement of Itálica is one of the oldest in the country. The site was founded in 206 BC and is known for being the birthplace of Roman emperors Trajan and Hadrian. During their reigns, Itálica became important both politically and militarily and was also a major producer of olive oil and grain.
Itálica continued to thrive until the 3rd century. Today, the ruins stand as a reminder of both the might (and ultimate demise) of the Roman Empire.
Once you have your ticket, you’ll enter the site and can choose where to start your visit. I highly recommend following the suggested route and saving the amphitheater for the end of your visit.
I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the ruins we encountered before visiting the amphitheater. Prior to visiting, I was mostly expecting to pull up, check out the amphitheater, and leave, but there is so much more to the site. While the ruins certainly aren’t as extensive as Pompeii, there are definitely some points of interest.
As you walk around the area, you’ll discover the remains of 5 large villas, and what is left of the Roman baths, Temple of Trajan, and even the sewage system (the Romans were famous for their plumbing!).
My favorite part of this section of Itálica was by far the beautifully preserved mosaics scattered throughout the site. We encountered more simple, patterned, black and white mosaics and even some incredibly colorful and detailed scenes.
One of my favorite mosaics is a colorful bird motif, with recognizable species such as peacocks and owls. It was so cool being able to pick out specific birds, and the colors were stunning.
Another mosaic that I found to be especially intriguing was a scene with Neptune. I spent quite some time staring at the meticulously laid out tiles and discovering palm trees, sea monsters, squids, shells, and other nautical motifs.
Towards the far end of the site is a particularly well-preserved mosaic featuring 7 Roman gods. It was definitely fun testing myself on which god was which, although there was a label so I must admit I cheated a bit!
We then stopped by the area overlooking what is left of the Roman baths. As someone who majored in Art History, I instantly recognized the familiar layout-caldarium (the hot pool), tepidarium (the warm pool) and the frigidarium (the cold pool). While the ruins don’t look like much now, you can clearly see where each of the pools would have been.
At this point, we decided to make our way over to the main event-the amphitheater. While the amphitheater is not the most well-preserved one that I have seen, the stadium once seated 25,000 people and is still quite impressive.
Itálica’s amphitheater is about half the size of Rome’s Colosseum, which seated 50,000 people, although today the site is completely missing the 3rd story it once had.
At the center of the arena is a large pit, where bears and wild boars used in gladiatorial battles were once kept. It is so crazy to imagine the violent scenes which at one time unfolded within these ancient walls. The Romans certainly had unique taste in entertainment!
Speaking of entertainment…
Itálica and Game of Thrones
Confession: I am a HUGE Game of Thrones fan, and never miss an opportunity to see a filming location. (I’ve now seen several filming spots in Croatia, Spain, and Iceland!) If you are all caught up on the show, then you will recognize Itálica from the final episode of season 7.
The amphitheater serves as the meeting point where pretty much all of the show’s major characters-Cersei, Jamie, Jon Snow, Daenerys, Theon, Euron etc. show up to discuss joining forces to defeat the Army of the Dead.
While the show uses CGI to create higher walls, the area itself is still totally recognizable.
I have to admit that I spent half of the visit humming the Game of Thrones theme song, and the other half of my time there wondering when Jon Snow was going to show up and sweep me off my feet. To my great disappointment, he didn’t. But a girl can dream.
It was still totally cool being able to explore the area in real life and know I was walking in the footsteps of some of my favorite actors!
In total, we stayed at the ruins for about 2.5 hours before heading to a nearby cafe for tapas and cerveza before returning by bus to Seville.
I had an excellent time exploring the site, and was truly impressed by the quality of the mosaics and the amphitheater. When wandering around and seeing the ruins set against the cypress trees, I honestly had a few moments where I felt as if I was back in Italy! (It also helped that I visited with a couple of Italians!). I also loved how few tourists there were, even though we visited on a Saturday!
If you are looking for a pleasant half-day trip just outside of Seville, then I would highly recommend heading to Itálica.
Have you been to any Roman ruins or Game of Thrones locations? Let me know in the comments!
You might also enjoy some of these Spain posts:
- 15 Things You Absolutely Must Do In Seville, Spain
- 3 Perfect Days in Barcelona: The Ultimate Itinerary
- Must Do Madrid: The Top 10 Things To Do In Spain’s Capital
- How To Spend 1 Day In Córdoba: Top 5 Things To Do
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