The Basque territory was settled by the Romans between the first century BCE and the fourth century CE. It was during this period that they founded the city of Oiasso, known today as Irun, in today’s Autonomous Community of the Basque Country. The city stands at the mouth of the Bidasoa River in the province of Gipuzkoa on the border with France and Navarre. Irun is the second-largest city in the province, after the capital, San Sebastian (just 17 km away), and has a population of around 62,000. It holds a strategic position as one of the main border crossings between France and Spain.
Archaeological investigations in recent decades have identified the location of the town of Oiasso, referred to in classical texts by Strabo, Pliny and Ptolemy. The geographer Strabo, who lived during the reign of Augustus and Tiberius, wrote that the polis of Oiasso was one of the towns in the region of Pompaelo (Pamplona) “on the very edge of the Ocean”, which lay “just at the border between Aquitaine and Iberia”. Numerous remains of the Roman settlement can still be seen, including the burial ground in the chapel of Santa Elena, the mineworks in the Aiako Harria area, the port facilities unearthed on Calle Santiago and Calle Tadeo Murgia in Irun and the baths located behind the present-day Oiasso Roman Museum.
Every July since 2010, the town has staged a historical recreation of the period, known as the Dies Oiassonis. It’s a novel way to learn more about Irun’s Roman past and enjoy yourself at the same time. Another major event is the Bidasoa International Archaeological Film Festival (FICAB), held every autumn since 2001. The festival give the general public a window onto the archaeologist’s work, with films showing the results of their research.
OIASSO – Irun, Euskadi