Roman Lugo

About two thousand years ago, the city of Lugo was founded by the Romans under the name of Lucus Augusti. The city was built over the remains of an old military camp strategically located above the embankment sculpted by the natural confluence of the riverbeds of the Miño and Rato rivers in the far south extreme of Terra Chá. In addition to the excellent topographical conditions, the existence of rich fountainheads with hot springs ensured the hygiene of troops and contributed to the recovery of wounded soldiers.

 

Once the conquest of the northwest was completed and the soalled Cantabrian Wars (25 -19 BC) were over, Rome faced the task of organising the new territories recently annexed to the Roman Empire. To that end, the Romans introduced a new political and administrative system structured around three newly-founded city centres, Asturica Augusta (Astorga), Bracara Augusta (Braga) e Lucus Augusti, which became the administrative capitals of the jurisdictional districts subordinated to the provincial government (conventi iuridici) and served as the axis of the Romanisation of the north west of the Peninsula.

The emperor Augustus did not take part himself in the founding of Lucus Augusti. Instead, he sent Paulus Fabius Maximus as appointed legate to the Roman Empire and entrusted him with the task of founding the city, which he did between 15 and 13 BC, as recorded in the epigraphs found in the city, one of which can be examined at MIHL. The name of the city derives from the designation of an indigenous naturist temple or sanctuary, originally Lucus, consecrated to the worship of the new emperor Augustus.

The design of the city was adjusted to the topographical conditions of the area, which had a key role in town planning and determined the location of the forum, raised in the upper area of the city but far from its geographic centre. The road system followed an apparently orthogonal pattern that was not rigorously applied, water supply was guaranteed through the construction of an aqueduct that abstracted water from springs and groundwater streams, and the sewerage system was composed of a large number of drains that run parallel to the streets first and then buried under the roads. Centuries later, the topography would greatly influence the construction of the city walls. More over, the excellent location of the city would transform it into the epicentre of the road network, the starting or ending point for a number of routes, as we are reminded by the bronze commemorative mile marker erected in Rúa Armanyá right at the city centre.

During the first three centuries of its existence, the city experienced remarkable urban growth, which resulted in the consolidation of the road network, the development of a water supply and drainage system, the consolidation of its monumental core and the development of residential areas and craft districts, with an important industry area based on pottery located to the north and north west of the city. Early in third century BC, Lucus Augusti gained importance and, for a short time, became the capital of the province presumably known as Provincia Superior Gallaecia.

By the last third of the third century ad and during the whole fourth century ad, the city of Lucus experienced a period of urban changes, caused mainly by the construction of a defensive wall. The walls brought important changes in the appearance of the city insofar as its construction, which conformed to the topography of the land, left out wide areas in the south west but integrated a strip of land to the north and north-east that was formerly reserved for the necropolis and for handcrafters.

The decline of the city would arrive after its fall into the hands of the Suevi on the fateful easter day of the year 460, according to the accounts of Hydatius, bishop of Chaves.