- See Merida for the disambiguation page
Mérida is the capital of the autonomous community of Extremadura, Spain. It is situated in the province of Badajoz and has a population of 50,780 (2002).
It was founded in the year 25 BC, with the name of Emerita Augusta (the name Mérida is a corruption of this) by order of Emperor Augustus, to protect a pass and a bridge over the Guadiana river. Two veteran legions were the former settlers: V Alaudae and X Gémina. The city became the capital of Lusitania province, and one of the most important cities in the Roman empire. Mérida preserves more important ancient Roman monuments than any other city in Spain; because of this, the "Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida" is a World Heritage site.
Among the remaining Roman monuments are the Puente Romano, a bridge over the Guadiana river that is still used by pedestrians; an important fortification to defend the bridge, lately used by Arabs, called Alcazaba ; the Temple of Diana; the remains of the Forum, including the Arch of Trajan ; the remains of the Circus Maximus; the Acueducto de los Milagros (aqueduct); a villa called the Mitreo ; the Embalse de Proserpina and Cornalvo reservoirs; the Circus, the Amphitheatre and the Roman Theatre where a summer festival of Classical theatre is presented, usually with versions of Greco-Roman classics or modern plays located in ancient times. One can also visit the Morerías archaeological site and many others all around the city, and watch digging in progress, as well as the Museo Nacional de Arte Romano.
The city of Mérida in Yucatán, Mexico, was named after Mérida in Spain.