Just a few kilometres from Saldana, among the cereal fields of Tierra de Campos, there's nothing to show that this corner of the province of Palencia is home to a real archaeological treasure: the villa of La Olmeda, one of the most important and best preserved sites of the Hispanic-Roman world. It's a delight to walk around this mansion from the Western Roman Empire and imagine its original splendour and the refined taste of its inhabitants. It's as if the hosts had waited for you for centuries to show you around their square residence with its two towers, the bedrooms, living quarters, baths, porticos, garden, but, above all, to show you the beautiful and valuable multi-coloured mosaics depicting human figures, heroes, hunting scenes, medallions, floral motifs...
The mosaic in the large reception hall is the jewel of the collection: 175 square metres of tiny tiles meticulously arranged to form numerous scenes, among which are portraits of the owners of the palace and the familiar story of Achilles on the Greek island of Skyros, when Odysseus discovers him in the palace of King Lycomedes.
Hidden for centuries until its discovery by a farmer in 1968, the unique site covers an area of 4,400 square metres. The archaeological importance of the site is now enhanced by the architectural interest of the building that houses it: a contemporary structure of concrete and steel covered with a rhomboid structure of iron, whose red tones conform with the ochres of the surrounding plain of Saldana. A twenty-first century museum that combines state-of-the-art design to complement a fourth-century marvel that stretches to include the farm area, the old villa and three burial grounds.
If you want to follow the Roman trail in the area, you should visit the Saldana museum. Terra sigillata pottery found at La Olmeda, along with funerary offerings, coins, glass, necklaces... and countless other pieces testify to the daily lives of our aristocratic neighbours.
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