Empúries was probably the first, and certainly one of the most important, Greek colonies on the Iberian Peninsula. Early Greek traders, pushing on from a trading post at Masilia (Marseille in France), set up a new post around 600 BC at what is now the charming village of Sant Martí d’Empúries, then an island. Soon afterwards they founded a mainland colony nearby, which came to be called Emporion (Market) and remained an important trading centre, and conduit of Greek culture to the Iberians, for centuries.
In 218 BC Roman legions landed here to cut off Hannibal’s supply lines in the Second Punic War. About 195 BC they set up a military camp and by 100 BC had added a town. A century later it had merged with the Greek one. Emporiae, as the place was them known, was abandoned in the late 3rd century AD, after raids by Germanic tribes. Later, an early Christian basilica and a cementery stood on the site of the Greek town, before the whole place, after over a millennium of use, disapeared altogether.
Many of the ancient stones now laid bare don’t rise more than knee-high. You need a little imagination – and perhaps the aid of a taped commentary – to make the most of it.
It’s a very interesting place to visit (a day trip) , not far away from Barcelona. If you are interested you can read more about the Empuries Archaeological Museum.