The Roman wall of Astorga, visible at the present time, is built at the end of the III century AD or begining of the next century in the framework of a fortification process that took place in the Iberian Peninsula and that affected more strongly the Hispanic northwest. The reasons that caused its construction are related to a period of instability experienced in the last years of the Roman Empire, especially originated by the incursions of the barbarian towns from the center of Europe.
It has a length of 2,2 km and embraces an enclosure of 26 Ha.
Presents the features of many other fortifications built at the same time (Leon, Lugo, Cacabelos …), highlighting the considerable thickening of its canvases – between 4 and 5 meters – with regards to enclosures constructed in previous times, and the height of the towers.
The canvases of the wall of Asturica were built with two walls of unmasked masonry, mainly local stone – quartzite -, on which subsequent layers of concrete nucleus were poured – Opus Caementicium -.
In the most prestigious areas, such as the doors, there is a rigging of large granite blocks of Opus Cuadratum kind, in many cases reused from previous constructions, which provides monumentality to the construction. The so-called Puerta Romana is the only one preserved contemporary compared to the construction of the wall and its remains can be visited in the park of Melgar.
HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF ASTORGA’s WALLED ENCLOSURE
Establishing the evolution of the astorgan walled enclosure is, to a large extent, talking about the history of the city, which goes together. During Roman times there is no record of warlike events that this construction had to encounter and therefore to allow it to experience its functionality. In the sixth century, there is some news about the assault of Theodoric and later looting.
The truth is that the solidity of this wall allowed the city to build a real stronghold in the Early Middle Ages, during the advance of the Asturian kingdom to the South. After a series of unsuccessful attempts to secure the city, effective repopulation would take place under the reign of Ordoño I, around 853, and it seems that, following the campaigns of Alfonso III, the border had to be far enough away, so that King Magno took Astorga as the seat of his court and was buried in his Cathedral. Later events led his successor Ordoño II to settle definitively in Leon leaving the old Asturian capital.
In the future, the city will suffer only sporadic war episodes. At the end of X century the city experiences the assault of Almanzor that, according to the sources of the time, demolishes the towers. Later, at the end of XII century the city will be besieged by Alfonso of Aragon and Alfonso VIII of Castile, resisting both hardships.
At the end of the thirteenth century, repairs were documented by the hand of Bishop Nuño, who is credited with an important building task in the city of Astorga. However, we do not know the scope of these contributions, which may have significantly altered the appearance of Roman fortification.
In subsequent times smaller actions are registered, until the War of Independence, key stage to understand the changes experienced in its appearance. The destructions induced by the hard French siege will be substantial, as a great part of the walls were slaughtered by the gunnery, mainly in North and East section. To all this must be added that the Spanish army, once recovered the city, proceeded to demolish part of what was still standing to avoid returning to the hands of the French.
From this moment, the history of the wall of Astorga is an ongoing rebuilding attempt that comes up to our days, driven by the problems, almost irreversible, caused by the gunnery in the War of the Independence and the progressive displacement of the defensive structure, that have been causing various collapses in different points of its route.
Zonas visitables: Paseo de la Muralla, visita gratuita.
Jardines del Palacio episcopal, visita gratuita durante los horarios de apertura del Palacio Episcopal.