The Archaeological Site and National Historical Monument of Baelo Claudia is located 22 kilometres (14 mi) outside of Tarifa, near the village of Bolonia, in southern Spain, where it lies on the shores of the Strait of Gibraltar. The site was settled 2000 years ago and occupied until it was hit by earthquakes and abandoned in the 6th century.
It was an important place to the Romans as it was the origin of their much-loved ‘garum’ sauce, (now called ‘colatura di alici’ in modern Italy) which was exported to the empire from Baelo Claudia and this is where the town derived its wealth. “Garum and other similar fish-based sauces mass produced in factories by the Romans, and sprinkled on anything savoury. They usually made several versions: a dark-coloured table condiment that was high in protein, a cooking sauce similar to Thai and Vietnamese fish sauces (sometimes called liquamen by historians, though often grouped together with garum), and a milder version called muria…” (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/aug/26/garum-sauce-colatura-di-alici-italy-fish)..
To me, Garum doesn’t sound very nice, It was made by crushing and fermenting, in brine, the intestines of fish such as tuna, eel, anchovies, and mackerel. Because the production of garum created such an unpleasant smell, its fermentation was relegated to the outskirts of cities. But according to the Romans, it was good enough to go to a lot of trouble to produce and is known as the ketchup of the Roman world.
In 1917, the first excavations began in the Bolonia area, researchers found the remains of a prosperous city, built according to classical Roman tradition; a perfectly planned and rational urban project.
Four excavations carried out by the French-Spanish scholar Pierre Paris excavated much of the basic structure of the city, while George Bonsor carried out further digs in the eastern necropolis.
However it is not until 1966 when the geophysical surveys led by professor Pellicer were carried out that the importance of the city is established.
In the same year, Casa de Velázquez French institution of Hispanic Studies began a systematic archaeological research that continued until the end of the 1980s and have resulted in one of the most complete archaeological sites peninsula Roman times.
Even if you’re not interested in the amazing archaeological discoveries at Baelo Claudia, the museum which houses the finds from the digs is worth a visit in itself. It looks like a huge Frank Lloyd Wright building dumped on the edge of the Straits. It has huge open spaces with great views of the beach at Bolonia.
The beach, for many is the highlight of any visit to Baelo Claudia. It is one of the classic golden beaches of the Costa de la Luz. Its huge sand dune crashes handsomely into the turquoise waters while many wind surfers follow the famous winds found all along these coastlines all the way to Cadiz.
3,000 jars of ancient Roman fish sauce discovered in shipwreck off Italian coast http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/around-3000-jars-ancient-roman-fish-sauce-discovered-shipwreck-off-italian-coast-1532972
Garum sauce: ancient Rome’s ‘ketchup’ becomes a modern-day secret ingredient https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/aug/26/garum-sauce-colatura-di-alici-italy-fish
Bolonia – Baelo Claudia http://www.andalucia.com/province/cadiz/bolonia/baelo-claudia.htm
Conjunto Arqueológico de Baelo Claudia website http://www.museosdeandalucia.es/cultura/museos/CABC/?lng=en