The Roman Empire was one of the greatest the world has seen. The Romans not only conquered people, but they instigated change to local customs and way of life. We know how far the Empire extended because the Romans not only kept meticulous records, but they always left their mark as well.
One of those places where we know the Romans had an impact was in Lugo, a city in northwestern Spain which is in the autonomous community of Galicia. Lugo is an important city because is the only city in the world to be surrounded by completely intact Roman walls.
This magnificent wall is truly inspiring. It reach a height of 10 to 15 metres (33 to 49ft) along a 2,117-metre (6,946ft) circuit that is ringed with 71 towers and ten gates. You can actually walk along the top of the wall in a continuous circuit around the town.
The walls were originally erected during the 3rd century, and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Any one of the wall’s ten gates gives access to an urban network of quiet pedestrian streets flanked by sober granite buildings. Some of the most emblematic of these are the Carmen gateway, more commonly known as Porta Miñá, which was traditionally used by the pilgrims heading for Santiago de Compostela; the Nova gate, San Pedro gate or the Santiago gate, built in the 18th century and which provides direct access to the Cathedral of Lugo.
The town lies on a hill surrounded by the rivers Minho, Rato and Chanca. Being built on a hill, some sections are great steep with about a one hundred metre difference between highest and lowest levels of the city.
Inside the Roman walls are a number of busy shopping streets which seem to spiral out from the Praza do Campo. In earlier days, this space was occupied by the Roman forum and a medieval market.
Lugo has a reputation for good food, and many popular tapas restaurants are situated in the town. Many of these can be found along the narrow cobbled lanes, particularly Calle de la Cruz, Rúa Nova and the streets which run adjacent to them. As well as the tapas bars, where you enjoy small snacks, the historic quarter also houses some of the capital’s best restaurants. In them, you can sample the best of Lugo’s gastronomy such as red meats, and the local speciality lacón con grelos (pork with a seasonal vegetables). Also available are locally-produces tetilla cheeses and a wide variety of fresh fish and seafood.
When visiting Lugo it is best to wear good, comfortable shoes as seeing the town by foot is probably the best way to experience its charms.