Empuries is an extensive ruin off the coast of Catalonia which reveals three distinct settlements. There is the old town, the new town and the Roman town founded by Julius Caesar in 49 BC.
The old town, known as Palaipolis was founded in 600 BC by the Greeks. This town was built on a small island and is now a tiny, walled hamlet called Sant Marti de Empuries. This is now part of the mainland again.
In 550 BC a larger town was built on the shore. This was called Emporion meaning trading station. In 218 BC the Romans came and built a city next to this town.
The lower part of the site at Empuries contains the Greek colony, Neapolis, and excavations have revealed several Greek temples including the Temple of Asklepius. Some of the excavated houses reveal mosaics and murals. There are also some large water cisterns.
The Roman town is bigger and richer but excavations have only been partially carried out. A Forum and two villas have been excavated in the Roman town as well as an amphitheatre.
The site is open daily and takes about half a day to wander round. There is a small museum with artefacts uncovered during excavation of the site. There is also free parking and a small cafe.
Explore Sant Marti d'Empuries
Sant Marti d' Empuries is just a short walk along the beach and rewards you with a tiny but very pretty village whose centre is taken up by a group of restaurants whose umbrellas fill the square. In front of them is the church which dates back to the 11th century and beyond this the Bay of Roses.
Sant Marti d'Empuries is a medieval village and has a large defensive wall. It is one of the oldest villages in the whole of Catalonia.
From the edge of the village there are tremendous views of the whole of the Bay of Roses and its endless sweep of beaches.
As well as being a great place to stop for lunch the beaches here are nice sandy ones perfect for relaxing after lunch.
Despite being the oldest part of Empuries not much excavating has taken place here.
The nearby town of L'Escala is a pleasant resort with beaches and restaurants to relax in after your tour of the excavations. L'Escala also has a lovely old town with narrow, medieval streets and its ancient port. It is an easy walk along the beach from Saint Marti d'Empuries, past Empuries and on to L'Escala.
On the other side of the Bay of Roses from Empuries is Roses with its medieval fortress.
Photos of Empuries
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Map of Empuries and places to visit
Empuries places to visit
See more places nearby in the Catalonia guide