Everything you need to know about Marbella

Villa Romana de Rio Verde


Calle Villa Romana del Rio Verde, Urb. Rio Verde Playa, 29602 Marbella
Tel: +34 952 825 035
Opening Times: Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Bank Holidays 10.30 - 13.30

Villa Romana de Rio Verde is located to the west of Marbella’s town centre, about a kilometre from Puerto Banús.

Alternatively, you can view the site through the fence during daylight and there are signs with information about the site. Or make a prior appointment by Calling 952 768 767

This Roman villa is believed to have been built at the end of the first or at the beginning of the second century AD, but it was later destroyed by fire. It was built as a fish farming estate dedicated to the production of Garum – a spicy sauce made from various types of fish – particularly mackerel. Garum was an essential part of ancient Roman cuisine and it could fetch high prices in Rome.

Roman villas normally consisted of two interior courtyards – Peristilo and Atrio. The Peristilo was the centre of the master’s house communicating with a number of other rooms. The main feature was the area called tablinum (the dining area) and this was connected to six other rooms. And it is this area of the Periostilo which remains of the Rio Verde Villa.

The skill employed in creating the mosaics are likened to the best examples found in Italy. They are made of 1 cm sized cubes called tessellae – predominately black and white. Although this artistic technique had its limitations, the artwork is rather realistic. In the room of the Medusa, a small number of grey or pink salmon and ochre coloured tessellae were used. This room reproduces a theme which enjoyed great popularity in ancient art – Gorgoneion (a shield with the face of the Medusa).

In Roman mythology, there were three sisters known as Gorgons. Two were immortals and the third, Medusa, was mortal. Medusa was an extraordinary beauty and Poseidon, the God of the sea, was deeply in love with her. When the God consummated his love with her in the temple of Athenea, she got angry and turned into a monster. Her lovely hair turned into serpents and her soft voice changed to a frightening bark. After Medusa’s metamorphosis, her gaze would turn those who looked at her into stone. Even so, the head of the Medusa on a round shield was considered a sign of good fortune in ancient times and it was used to provide protection against curses.

Objects found at the site during the archaeological excavation have been moved to the Archaeology Museum in Malaga.

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Villa Romana de Rio Verde

Calle Villa Romana del Rio Verde, Urb. Rio Verde Playa, 29602 Marbella