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ROMAN ROADS in northwest Hispania, communication roads, conquest and the expansion of Romanisation and trade

The second of the roads built was the so-called Via XIX, which connected Braga with Astorga via Lugo . It was opened in the year 11 AD and its most important mansions included Aquis Celenis (Caldas de Reyes, Iria Flavia (Padrón), Lucus Augusti ( Lugo ) and Bergidum Flavium (Cacabelos). It is the longest of all the roads in the northwest and covers almost 500 km .

The so-called Via Nova was built during the period of Flavius, in the second half of the 1st century AD. It stretched between Braga and Astorga through the interior regions that today correspond to Orense . It is particularly well known thanks to its daring layout, which follows the lie of the land, and the number of milestones, which total approximately 286 between those that have been conserved and those mentioned. It is undoubtedly the largest number among all the known roads of the Empire. The most famous mansions include Aquis Querquennis, Baños de Bande (Ourense), where there is also an important military encampment that was heavily involved in the building of the road, Foro, in A Rúa de Petín, and Bergidum, a town at which it meets up with another two roads. It is the shortest of the roads between Braga and Astorga.

We also know, thanks to the Antonine Itinerary, that, between Braga and Astorga, there was a so-called Via per loca maritima, whose only maritime feature was a section with two mansions on the current Galician coast of the Barbanza peninsula. Whatever the case, it was probably a mosaic road with sections from several others and built in the later period. The most solid section of the road is the one that runs between Lucus Augysti and Brigantium.

Apart from the aforementioned main roads, there is another network of secondary roads that connected the towns and cities of northeast Spain together. There was a much used maritime road that connected the Mediterranean and Atlantic ports and is shown in the Antonine Itinerary; but also, from Braga and Astorga, other important roads set off for the south and east of the peninsula, conveniently connecting northwest Hispania with the rest of the Empire. This is the case of the road that joined Braga with Lisbon , Astorga with Bordeaux and Bordeaux with Mérida, currently known as the Via de la Plata (the Silver Way ).


The Roman roads of the official network were built on the initiative of the imperial authorities and under the management of the army, but they were often carried out at the expense and with the work of the local and tribal communities whose territory they crossed.

First of all, the layout was planned and then the bed of the road was made, followed by walls, parapets, entrances and bridges. It was then finished off with the pavement and the milestones at each of the established miles. However, it was necessary not only to build but also maintain the roads each year and this led to the many testimonies regarding the different emperors that succeeded each other in time.


There were two ways of travelling along the Roman roads: privately, with a great deal of adventure and exclusively under one's own steam; or officially, after obtaining the evectio, or official authorisation, in favour of certain mandatories of the imperial government, providing them with escorts, vehicles, animals and other logistic support that was often on the account of the local communities. The journeys could be made on foot, horseback or in vehicles that were adapted to the terrain according to the uses and purposes of each journey.

The Roman roads are another example of the Romanisation of the Empire. Rome imposed itself not only by force, but also by civilisation, whose most visible mark is the town, with its particular urban plan and specific architecture. This urbanisation and the building of the roads constitute just one of the many significant aspects of the Romanisation process. The Roman conquests included a magnificent public work that transformed the territories annexed to the Empire and spread across the entire countryside, levelling off land, building roads, bridges and, above all, aqueducts necessary for urban life, industry and farm irrigation. This control of man over nature required large-scale works to dry up reservoirs, drain wetlands and use rivers for navigation and the creation of safe maritime ports with docks, warehouses and tanks for military and merchant fleets.


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