This Is the Only City in the World to be Surrounded by Completely Intact Roman Walls

June 25, 2023

Built almost 2000 years ago, they surround the entire old town.

Image credit: eyeofmycanon

Lugo is a city in the Autonomous Region of Galicia in northwestern Spain. It is the only city in the world to be surrounded by completely intact Roman walls, which reach a height of 10 to 15 meters (33 to 49 feet) along a 2,117-meter (6,946 ft) circuit ringed with 85 external towers.

Visitors visitors can stroll along the entire length through a walkway over the walls.

Image credit: Matthias Bethke

These ancient walls date from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD and are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering. They were built using local materials such as slate, granite and other stones – even worked stone pieces from Roman buildings – that were re-used in the construction process, giving the late imperial walls an authentic look.

The defences of Lugo are protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. They are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.

Image credit: Trevor Huxham

Despite the renovation work carried out over the centuries, the walls conserve their original layout and the features associated with their defensive purpose. Apart from the walls themselves, there are towers, battlements, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, as well as a moat. Within the walls, a number of double staircases provide access to the towers from the parapet walk.

Since they were built, the Roman walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973. Locals and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.

Image credit: Landscape and Travel

According to legend, the Romans built these walls to protect not a city but a forest; “Augustus’ Holy Forest”, Lucus Augusti in Latin, from which Lugo takes its name. And although today the forest is a mystery, the walls definitely stand, defying time and speaking to those who know how to listen.