Spring in Sant Martí
Wisterias stand in full bloom between the old stone walls of Sant Martí d’Empúries. This is the time, when we like to take a break from our busy life as journalists and sit down in one of the pretty cafés on the market place of Sant Martí d’Empúries, one of our favourite cities of the Costa Brava. The small, medieval town used to be the main city of the ancient county Empúries and until today it sits enthroned on a cliff above the sea. The shore lies in the sun of spring, a white temptress, inviting us to enjoy the year’s first rays of sunshine. All along the beach with its bays and rocks runs the Costa Brava’s most romantic esplanade, connecting Empúries and L’Escala.
It was here, where the first Greek settlers came ashore in the 6th century BC, and it is the Greek we owe thanks for the impressive ruins of Empúries. They named the first town they arrived at – a small island indeed – Paliapolis. Today, Paliapolis is an island no more; it is now connected to the mainland and called Sant Martí d’Empúries. A little bit later, the Romans were just as enchanted as the Greek. They built a city here in the first century BC, and used it as a military base.In the times of Caesar Augustus, it formed a union with the city of Municipium Emporiae. Since both the Greek and the Romans have contributed significantly to the city’s history, Empúries is archaeologically unique. And who knows. Maybe it was right here, that the Spanish culture of fine wines came into being? The museo de Argueologia de Cataluna and Dominic Abernethy, working for Celler Petit in St Martí d’Empúries, were also interested in this specific question and tried to find out the facts. Their results are going to be presented from May 23rd to May 25th 2008, as a contribution to the very first wine fair, Arrels del Vi, in Empúries. Their intention: to
entertain their guests with a symbiosis of wine, culture, history, amusement, joy and information. Only the best wines are going to be presented, and a small wine-tasting is included in the ticket, as well as a guided tour around the ruins of Empúries, which is taking place every afternoon at 4pm. And there has been something new here to marvel at ever since March: The Statue of Aesclepios, or Esculapi de Empúries, one of the region’s most important archaeological findings. Not only was the statue returned to Empuries in March. The month also was the begin of many celebrations that marked the 100th anniversary of the city’s discovery as an archaeologically essential place. And it is very likely that there are going to be even more festivities. The Statue of Aesclepios was first discovered in 1909, right here in Empuries, but was kept in Barcelona’s Archaelogical Museum until very recently for means of restoration. New research suggests that the statue is well over 2200 years old. Since March 15th 2008, many visitors of Empuries have been able to marvel at the Statue in the Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya (MAC).
Aesclepios, called Asklepios by the Greek and Aesculapius by the Romans, is the Greek god of Healing. His origins probably deriving from a Thessalian Demon, he was known as the son of Apoll and Coronis. His sign was – and is – the Odem, a staff entwined with a holy snake. The walk through the ruins of Empúries is an experience you do not want to miss: unique views of the sea, antique pillars, marvelous mosaics, Mediterranean vegetation and a feeling of what it must have been like to live here, a long time ago. Everything is topped of by a glass of wine fine.
We are excited.
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