Most Roman Walls still standing today were substantially added to by later kingdoms and empires, and often only their base is actually Roman. Other Roman walls are in tatters with only small segments left today. But the northern Spanish city of Lugo still preserves impressive Roman walls. Lugo is the only city in the former Roman world to be still surrounded by mostly intact Roman walls (or at least the old center of the city).

Travel to London and one will see the opposite. London was once the Roman city of Londinium and only small pieces and segments of its old Roman walls remain visible today. Another great Spanish city to explore Roman ruins and heritage in is the historic city of Cordoba which is famous for its old Roman bridge, Roman ruins, and extensive Moorish architecture.

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The Best Preserved Roman Walls In The World

"The entire circuit survives intact and is the finest example of late Roman fortifications in western Europe... The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire."UNESCO

UNESCO describes the walls as the "finest example of late Roman fortifications in Western Europe."

  • Status: World Heritage Listed

When the Romans first built the walls, there were five gates, but another five were added relatively recently since 1853 to handle the expanding population of the town. The best-preserved old Roman gates are the Porta Falsa and the Porta Miña.

  • Gates: Five Original, Five Added Later (10 total)

There were originally many towers along the walls of which 49 are still intact today and another 39 have partially survived. They were built in uneven intervals between 5.4 meters (18 ft) to 12.8 meters (42 ft) of each other.

Related: Toledo's Architecture Is More Impressive Than Madrid, And That's Not The Only Reason To Visit

The Size And Preservation Of The Roman Walls Of Lugo

The Roman Walls of Lugo stretch for over 2 kilometers around the historic center of Lugo and have been World Heritage-listed since 2000. They are a popular tourist attraction and worth seeing if one is planning to tour the northern Spanish province of Galicia.

  • Length: 2 Kilometers (2,120 meters or 6,960 feet)
  • Width: 4.2 meters or 14 feet
  • Height: Varies From 8-12 Meters or 26 to 39 Feet

The walls are around 4.2 meters or 14 feet wide and their height is between 8 meters or 26 feet and 12 meters or 39 feet. The walls were partly built with recycled stone from demolished buildings and have an earth core mixed with gravel and other materials. They are impressive even today.

History And Background Of The Walls Of Lugo

The walls were built between 263 and 276 AD during the Crisis of the Third Century when the Roman Empire split apart into three pieces and nearly disintegrated. They were built to defend the ancient Roman town of Lucus Augusti (today's Lugo) from Germanic invaders and local tribesmen.

  • Built: Between 263 and 276 AD

When they were built, they were part of a larger complex of defensive fortifications. There was also a moat and a clearing between the walls and the city called an intervallum. The walls enclosed much of the old Roman town (34 hectares) - but not all of it.

  • Camino de Santiago: Lugo Is Along The Camino Primitivo Path (One Of the Routes to The Compostela

While Lugo may not be on the most popular Santiago de Compostela, it was on the route of some of the Medieval pilgrims. Many of the pilgrims used to pass through these old Roman walls - especially the gate of Porta Miña.

Related: What You Need To Know About The Final Stop On The Camino De Santiago

Visiting Today

Today it is possible for visitors to stroll along the whole length of the walls. The town's visitor center is also dedicated to the walls (called the Centro de Interpretación de la Muralla). Visit the Visitor Center's website to see its opening hours and the insights that it offers about the history of these impressive walls (the website is only in Spanish and the local Galician language).

  • Tip: Walk Along The Path On top Of the Walls Today

The walls run around the modern city of Lugo (a city of around 100,000 people) and are open to the public. Anyone can see them, touch them, take pics of them, and walk over them.