Activities


Salar’s history is so deeply intertwined with Rome and its culture that, in our town, you can get a taste of Rome itself. You’ll be able to see the remains from an archaeologist’s perspective, learn how the Romans crafted mosaics and even step into the shoes of a chef from Ancient Rome.

Through our workshops, you’ll discover all the secrets that the Roman Empire and the ecosystem of the Roman Villa of Salar have placed
at our fingertips.

If you’re visiting with a group, whether adults or students, and you want to dive into Granada’s Roman history, do not hesitate to contact us for a unique Beatus Ille experience.


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Squared metres excavated
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Squared metres ofh mosaics

Would you like to find out more about the scientific work of an archaeologist?

During our 2020 campaign, we worked hard to make sure our excavation could reach all those as passionate about archaeology as we are. Follow us on social media and visit our Live Archaeology section, where you can see the real diary of an open and accessible excavation in digital form, put together as a result of the global situation at that time by. a team of experts and volunteers sharing their archeological work.

Muro de cimentación ibérico en la villa romana de salar
Julio, arqueólogo del equipo de excavición de la Villa Romana de Salar
Our greatest treasure, or our magical heritage, as we prefer to call it, is the Roman Villa of Salar. It’s an archaeological project of the University of Granada.

The villa dates back to between the first and sixth centuries. It’s given visibiility to both archaeology in general and our town specifically. We’ve become a leading light in archaeological tourism in both Granada and Andalusia.

Above all, we’re particularly proud of our archaeological project. Since excavations began in 2007, with no interruption since 2016, we have transformed this excavation and enhancement project into one of our greatest tourist attractions.

The Roman Villa of Salar is a social, educational and archaeological project. With the help of the University of Granada, it grows every year, with new studies, theories and dates. The experts that work here and the scale of our villa lead us to new discoveries every year. As a result, we’re becoming a living archaeological and social project, unique within the Baetica region.

The history of the Villa

Salar

Salar is a town located very close to Loja, in the west of Granada. The name of the town is thought to have different origins. We prefer Simonet’s interpretation, which links the name with the Arab word al sal (house/dwelling). After all, this Granadan town is now experiencing its golden era thanks to a great discovery, the Roman Villa of Salar.

However, the Roman civilisation is not the only one that’s left its mark here. From the Neolithic onwards, many others have left a legacy in this town. We’re always learning more about their cultures and traditions.

Thanks to its stories, legends, culture and traditions, this is a unique, charming rural destination which has been named a Magical Spanish Town.

Standing out amongst everything we have to offer is the Church of Santa Ana the Bañuelo walk, following the paths of Salar’s river, or other walks which really give you an idea of the essence of the area, passing through olive groves to reach Marín’s Cross, or following the Camino de los Barrancos.

Domestic architecture

The Roman Villa is especially remarkable for its flamboyantly decorated mosaics, which are true works of art, as well as the amazingly beautiful Venus sculptures, which are astonishingly well preserved.

Although there’s evidence of the villa being used at the beginning of the first century, its golden era was between the third and fifth centuries. Its owner clearly wanted to showcase their wealth and built a villa with a peristylium courtyard. It was a manor house used for agricultural purposes.

The rooms excavated represent around 10% of the whole building, and were a part of the luxurious quarters for the owners of the house.

East corridor of the courtyard

Ocean scenes

The east corridor connects the triclinium and the peristylium with a beautiful marble step. The corridor’s floor is covered with a stunning figurative mosaic representing a marine thiasos. The walls were adorned with frescoes.

The mosaic also shows a nereid riding a ketos or sea monster, which is remarkably well preserved. Nereids are the princesses of the Mediterranean, and they embody fertility and the grace of the seas.

West corridor of the courtyard

Hunting scenes

Excavations of the west corridor began in 2017. As a result, an outstanding polychrome mosaic with hunting scenes was revealed. The scenes alternate landscapes and vegetation with leopards, wild boar and horsemen. This structure and the decorative elements (walls, mosaics, doorsteps and columns) in this area are very well preserved. Three rooms open onto this colonnaded space, all of which are tiled with elegant geometric mosaics.

The spectacular decoration of the living spaces of the dominus, the owner of the Roman Villa of Salar, reflects the economic power and pre-eminent social status of its inhabitants.

South corridor of the courtyard

This corridor is lower than the east corridor, and the two spaces are joined by two beautiful two-metre-long limestone steps. There’s also a geometric polychrome mosaic.

Triclinium

The triclinium is the main dining room in the Villa, where large banquets were held. It’s one of the most important rooms, symbolically speaking. It’s 9.70 m long and 6.90 wide and would have been a focal point of the house.

A polychrome mosaic with geometric and plant motifs paves the room, and the base of the walls was covered in marble using the opus sectile technique.

Unfortunately, the triclinium was the part of the Roman Villa of Salar most affected by the diggers which were used as part of a plan to build a treatment plant on the site.

The fountain

What this quadrangular open courtyard would have looked like is still unknown since only a small area has been excavated. However, it’s likely that it had an inner garden and, probably, a large fountain in the middle. Opposite the triclinium, at the east end of the courtyard, part of a small platform was found. It might have been a semicircular exedra, or recess, with mosaics, used as a place from which to contemplate the inner garden. The opus signinum perimeter channel is also worth mentioning. It is internally attached to the walls that outline the peristylium. It collected rainwater from the surrounding corridors’ roofs and stored it in the tank that we can suppose was under the aforementioned fountain.

Vaulted room

The function of this room is still unknown. It’s an area belonging to a building adjoining the southern corridor of the owner’s residence, with a mosaic floor with geometric motifs (today almost invisible), and a spectacular, vaulted roof formed by rows of tubi fittili, very rare on the Iberian peninsula.

Room 1

This may have been a quadrangular cubiculum (bedroom), and opens up to the west corridor surrounding the peristylium. It has a beautiful, well-preserved geometric polychrome mosaic.

Room 2

Attached to room 1 to the south and also connected with the west corridor. This room is paved with a black and white mosaic with different decorative motifs, such as mirrored peltas, Salomon’s knots, secant circles, solar motifs and chequerboard patterns. It’s also surrounded by a decorative border made up of small coloured marble pieces of rudimentary sectile. This was added at a later date.

Room with tripartite entrance

Attached to room 1 to the south and also connected with the west corridor. This room is paved with a black and white mosaic with different decorative motifs, such as mirrored peltas, Salomon’s knots, secant circles, solar motifs and chequerboard patterns. It’s also surrounded by a decorative border made up of small coloured marble pieces of rudimentary sectile. This was added at a later date.

Imagen de la Planta excavada hasta 2019

Layout

A villa was a Roman agricultural and farming estate. The one in Salar dates back to between the first and fifth centuries. Its golden era was between the third and fifth centuries.

The excavated rooms represent around 10% of the whole building, and were a part of the luxurious quarters for the owners of the house.

Mosaics

Female sculptures (Nymphs and Goddess Venus)

The three half-naked female sculptures found up until now deserve a special mention. Two of them are nymphs and the third, which is excellently well preserved, is a modest representation of the goddess Venus.

The Salar Town Council has received a grant from the European Union, under the European Regional Development Fund, co-financed by the Andalusian Regional Government’s Department of Tourism, Regeneration, Justice and Local Administration, for the project to provide an open-air classroom and install toilet modules inside the grounds of the Roman Villa of Salar, which aims to enhance the value of the Villa and provide basic services.

 

The Salar Town Council has received a grant provided for in the Leader Local Development Strategies under submeasure 19.2 of the Andalusian Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, for the construction of a visitor reception centre and new accesses to the Roman Villa of Salar.

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