When the Romans took on the Iberian Peninsula, they conquered an area that was one of the most fertile throughout the Roman Empire and what in many ways was to be the most important of all the roman provinces. It was rich in minerals and the soil was fertile. A part of the Roman wine production was sold in Rome
The reason why the Romans got to Spain in the first place, was Hannibal’s trip over the French Alps and therefore a direct threat of an attack on Rome itself. Thus, the Second Punic War started and the arrival of the Romans in 218 BC to the Peninsula.
Hamilcar Barca is also supposed to have founded Barcelona and given his name to the city (another popular explanation tells that the name Barcelona comes from the tale about Hercules and his loss of the “Barca Nona” (the ninth boat). Hamilcar died in 228 BC during a fight with local tribes and his son-in-law Hasdrubal followed him.
The Romans made Hasdrubal sign a peace treatise promising that the Phoenicians would stay south of the Rio Ebro. When Hasdrubal was assassinated in 221 BC the son of Hamilcar Barca, who was now 26 years old, took control over the Phoenician army. He threatened taking Sagunto and even though the Romans sent ambassadors to Spain warning Hannibal, he took the city after 8 months of siege.
This started the Second punic war and in 218 BC the Romans embarked in Spain to confront Hannibal. But instead of fighting the Romans he started abandoning Spain moving towards Rome crossing the French Alps with a huge army and many elephants (since Alexander the Great’s elephants were used in war in Hellenistic times).
In later centuries Hispania (as the Romans called Spain) became a very important province. Emperor Trajan and Hadrian were both born in Hispania (in the city of Italica, North of the modern Seville), as it also applies to the later Emperor Marcus Aurelius and the poet Seneca (born in Córdoba, the Roman Corduba). Trajan and Hadrian were emperors when the Roman Empire reached its largest geographical size.
Spain also came to play a leading role in the Roman Empire for farming. Hispania exported gold, silver, tin, lead, wool, olive oil, wheat, wine, fish and Garum (salted and seasoned fish that could be mixed up with water, wine, or oil, considered aphrodisiac).
Several cities in modern Spain take their name after the original cities, founded by the Romans. This applies to cities such as Zaragoza (named after the Emperor Augustus, Caesaraugusta), Mérida (Augusta Emerita) and Valencia (Valentia, latin for courage).
→ Visit to Roman Tarragona (Tarraco) with a group (the groups should consist of at least 10 people).