The Lugo Wall is the only urban defensive wall of Roman Empire origin still intact and complete: its 5 original gates or portas [False, Miñá, San Pedro, Santiago and Nova] and 46 towers stand with great impression. It is for this reason in year 2000 it became part of the World Heritage Site Family but before that period, specifically in 1921, the Lugo Wall became a National Monument. Today, the Roman Wall would not exist if many persons like Engineer major-general Felipe Paz, received permission to knock down the wall for city growth. It is safe to say that people of Galicia, Spain are extremely pleased that the wall stayed intact because it is not only a pleasing monument but also a major income earner for the area. Many tourist travel from far and year exploring the wall and explore the sites within reach.
Before The Romans
It is interesting to note that in Celtic tradition, Lugo [City of Lugh] is the “God of Light and all the arts.” The community was an agricultural province in a fertile plain before the arrival of the Romans in 20 BC. [When the Romans left, they went back to its pastoral activities blessed by many rivers.] The Rio MiÑo flowed pass the west side of the prehistoric Celtic settlement. For a population of 10, 000, the community built a low earthen embankment topped with a dry stone wall measuring 1.2 miles in length, circling 90 acres. The Celtic Arevaci Tribe, mingled and married with the native Iberians [descendants of Neolithic people migrating from Libya around 5th millennium BC] forming Celtiberians. However, when the Romans arrived, such assimilation did not take place, evident with the Cantabarian Wars [between 26 and 24 BCE]; they levelled Lugo to the ground after resistance from the Celtiberians.
Why Build a Wall
Some posit the view that the Romans built the wall to protect a forest “Augustus Holy Forest” [which translates similar to Lucus Augusti in Latin], not a city. The legend has the forest as a mystery although the wall is definitely not secretive. However, another school of thought suggests that the Romans built the wall, under the leadership of Emperor Augustus between 263 and 276 BCE, when the threat for invasion became distracting.
Composition of the Wall
The famous engineer Vitruvius designed the wall, with materials ranging from slate stones, lime mortar, gravel and sand. One writer describes the wall as rectangular with round angles, which originally occupied an area of 35 hectares. The wall stands between eight to fifteen meters high with a width four to seven feet wide and 2,200 meters long. The doors and towers consisted mainly of granite. Although the towers were semi-circular from the plan, 11 were rectangular. The towers opened to the corridors in the wall and at times some windows shaped in a semi-circular arch [See picture below].
Although mostly all the gates or doors underwent restoration however Mina stands fully in its Roman state, [see picture below].
From 1854 to 1921, 5 additional gates chiselled it home in the Lugo Wall. Through staircases, one would gain access to the walkway.
Use of the Wall
The wall served as a defensive and military base from the Roman times until the mid-19th century. In addition to such duties, the closed gates restricted people’s movement especially in time of plagues and illness. Furthermore, a guarded city allowed collection of tariffs for goods entering the city.
It is important to highlight that the church had special influence over the use of the wall. They used of the top of the wall for procession during special activities such as Easter. In addition, the sacred attachment to three of the gates [San Pedro, Miñá and Nova], saw convicts for hanging exiting the city not through these gates but the False Gate.
All evidence points towards the use of the wall for homes of many citizens making the walkway of the wall (top) a regular used feature. However, in 1971 because of the Clean Wall Operation[ issued by don Ramón Falcón, Deputy General Director for Fine Arts, with don Florentino Pérez Embid as Director General], council demolished all buildings attached to the external wall.
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Printed For James Duncan, Oliver and Boyd, M. Ogle, R. M. Tims. THE MODERN TRAVELLER A POPULAR DESCRIPTION GEOGRAPHICAL,HISTORICAL,AND TOGRAPHICAL OF THE VARIOUS COUNTRIES OF THE GLOBE: Spain and Portugal: Vol 2. Oxford University, 1826.
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