When I was learning early American history, before I was even in high school, I routinely heard the Americas referred to as the “New World.” I don’t believe I ever truly appreciated the significance of that label until I began to study abroad. Perhaps one of the greatest parts about Spain is the casual existence of hundreds to thousands of years of history literally beneath ones feet. When I took a day trip to the small Galician city of Lugo, I was struck by the fact that the sidewalks I carelessly traversed were covering a hidden Roman city only a few feet beneath the surface. Excavators frequently happen across new troves of underground streets, baths, and mosaics in Lugo. Every twenty feet or so there would be a glass window replacing one of the heavy stone pieces of the sidewalk to create a view into a second city that lay beneath the new one. Even inside the stores, such as Zara, there were glass openings right through the floors to show ancient mosaics or other art. If it wasn’t pointed out to me by one of my Spanish friends, I might never have noticed, but he showed me incredible sections of uncovered Roman relics, including a bath tub that was built 2000 years ago, when Augustus Caesar himself conquered the little city. In fact, looking through the windows, it was not hard to imagine the Roman emperor enjoying Lugo’s natural hot springs in the ornately carved bath. Much more conspicuous than the hidden wonders below the streets, were the Roman walls that surrounded the city. Built in the 3rd century, the tall stone fortifications stretch 2 kilometers around the old town. I made the walk with my friend, and I couldn’t help but marvel at how such a small and unknown town like Lugo had such a historical treasure. In fact, almost every small and unknown town in Spain has incredible historical items that are very easy for an American to be jealous of. If America had even one cathedral that dated as far back as the one in Lugo (755 AD), it would be a national treasure. Making the trip to the “Old World” has not yet ceased to amaze.
James O'Connor '18