Travel

Mosaics of Spain’s Roman Baetica Route: Lebrija Palace

On a recent trip to southern Spain, I travelled along the Roman Baetica Route and visited many of the archaeological sites and museums that Andalusia has to offer. Among the plethora of ancient treasures to be found in the region, I was particularly impressed by the incredible mosaics I came across. This installment of the series will focus on the Lebrija Palace in Seville.

The Roman Baetica Route is an ancient Roman road that passes through fourteen cities of the provinces of Seville, Cadiz, and Córdoba, which correspond to modern-day Andalusia. It runs through the most southern part of the Roman province of Hispania and includes territories also crossed by the Via Augusta. The route connected Hispalis (Seville) with Corduba (Córdoba) and Gades (Cádiz). The word Baetica comes from Baetis, the ancient name for the river Guadalquivir.

The Roman Baetica Route

Lebrija Palace

One of the least known of Seville’s museums is the Lebrija Palace, a 16th century palace with a wonderfully varied private collection. The Countess Lebrija bought the palace in 1901 and reconstructed it during 13 years until 1914. The Countess loved archaeology and during these 13 years she bought Roman mosaics and amassed a collection of many other antiquities. Her magnificent collection included a spectacular range of mosaics taken from Italica, most notably one representing the god Pan which paves the palace’s central courtyard. Pan, who is in love with Galatea, can be seen in the central panel of the mosaic serenading her on his flute. The medallions show the love stories of Zeus with Leda, Europa, Ganymede, Antiope, Danae, Io and Callisto, while in the corners are representations of the four seasons. The galleries surrounding the patio are paved with Opus Sectile dating to the 3rd century AD.

Central courtyard with the God Pan mosaic from Italica, Palacio Lebrija, Seville, Spain, Baetica mosaics

Central courtyard with the God Pan mosaic from Italica, Palacio Lebrija, Seville. Image © Carole Raddato.

Leda seduced by Zeus in the form of swan, Baetica. Image © Carole Raddato.

Leda seduced by Zeus in the form of swan. Image © Carole Raddato.

Callisto transformed into a bear by Zeus, is about to be slayed by her own son Arcas. Baetica mosaics, Seville.

Callisto transformed into a bear by Zeus, is about to be slayed by her own son Arcas. Image © Carole Raddato.

Danaë impregnated by Zeus in the guise of a shower of golden coins, Baetica route. Image © Carole Raddato.

Danaë impregnated by Zeus in the guise of a shower of golden coins. Image © Carole Raddato.

In 1999, the descendants of the Countess and the current owners decided to open the house to the public as a museum. The public can visit the ground floor and view the Countess’ great archaeological collection and discover the passion of a true collector.

Palacio Lebrija, Seville, Spain. Baetica route. Image © Carole Raddato.

Palacio Lebrija, Seville, Spain. Image © Carole Raddato.

The Columns room, paved with a geometric mosaic and decorated with fragments of mosaics on the walls and two Roman colums, one made of green marble and the other made of a mixture of various colors. Baetica route mosaics.

The Columns Room, paved with a geometric mosaic and decorated with fragments of mosaics on the walls and two Roman columns, one made of green marble and the other made of a mixture of various colours. Image © Carole Raddato.

The Octagonal Room paved with a Baetica mosaic which previously had a fountain at its centre, it is thought to date from the Hadrianic period, Palacio Lebrija, Seville. Image © Carole Raddato.

The Octagonal Room paved with a mosaic which previously had a fountain at its centre. It is thought to date from the Hadrianic period. Image © Carole Raddato.

Central panel of a mosaic depicting Ganymede being kidnapped by Zeus disguised as a eagle, Room of Ganymede, Palacio Lebrija, Seville. Baetica route mosaics.

Central panel of a mosaic depicting Ganymede being kidnapped by Zeus disguised as a eagle. Image © Carole Raddato.

The Medusa Room, Palacio Lebrija, Seville. Image © Carole Raddato.Baetica route mosaics.

The Medusa Room. Image © Carole Raddato.

See more images of Palacio Lebrija here.

View the previous entry in this series, the Archaeological Museum of Seville, and stay tuned for future installments.

Originally published at Following Hadrian; republished with permission.
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Carole Raddato's favourite hobby is travelling and for the last 8 years she has taken a huge interest in the history of the ancient world. She has dedicated all her free time to this passion. She loves to share with other history fans all the incredible facts and stories that she discovers throughout her journeys. She is neither a professional photographer nor an ancient history scholar, but she hopes that everybody can enjoy her photos. She is particularly interested in everything related to the emperor Hadrian whom she finds fascinating. He was himself an incessant traveller, visiting every province in the Empire during his reign. When Carole is looking for new ideas for her travels, she usually takes inspiration from his journeys and it is a great motivation for her to follow him in his footsteps.