The Barrio del Foro Romano offers further knowledge of the ancient city of Carthago Nova, showing another part of its great archaeological wealth. It has been hidden for more than 20 centuries under the different interventions carried out in Cerro del Molinete, named Arx Hasdrubalis in ancient times. The excavations of 2008 and 2009 on the southern slope of Cerro del Molinete brought to light a complete block of the Roman Cartagena. It was formed by two buildings: a baths complex from the 1st century AD, and the Atrium building, from the 1st century BC, where religious banquets were celebrated.
Among its remains, we can see walls up to four metres high and the anastylosis or reconstruction of some columns in the Atrium and the baths peristyle. However, the most important remains are:
the well-preserved pictorial cycles, which decorated the banquet halls in the Atrium.
the opus spicatum floor (bricks arranged in a herringbone pattern) in the peristyle or arcade square, which gave access to the baths.
The city of Carthago Nova, joined to the Roman state in 209 BC, was made a colony in 54 BC. This marked the beginning of an intense process of urban renovation: a new road network was designed as well as some of the most important buildings, i.e. a forum and a theatre.
Cerro del Molinete (Arx Hasdrubalis) was affected by these changes. Between the harbour and the forum, blocks which included public and private buildings were built: the forum and its constructions —one of which is known as the curia— as well another group of buildings called Barrio del Foro Romano.
One of the blocks in the neighborhood was composed of two buildings, which belonged to a semi-public corporation: a baths complex with a peristyle and the Atrium building, dedicated to the celebration of religious banquets.
Baths and peristyle
The baths complex, built in the 1st century AD, was formed by a characteristic succession of spaces:
The frigidarium or cold room, also used as a changing room (apodyterium), where the marble floor is preserved.
The tepidarium, where you can still see the heating systems.
The caldarium or hot room, which can be found below Calle Honda.
The furnaces located in the Decumano.
A peristyle or courtyard gave access to the baths. It also served as a meeting space or as a reception to the members of the mentioned corporation. Their flooring, preserved in a very good state, was made with bricks arranged in a herringbone style (opus spicatum). In this space, a cornucopia made of marble from Luni-Carrara was discovered.
The Atrium building
The Atrium building, built at the end of the 1st century BC, could be another building of the corporation. It was dedicated to celebrate ritual banquets in honour of gods of eastern origin, maybe Isis or Serapis, who probably received worship in an attached sanctuary. It was organised around a courtyard with four columns, which gave access to the four big rooms for the banquets (triclinia). Tabernae and service stations completed the set. Its pictorial decorations, its impressive walls and the columns of four metres high stand out.