In the centre of the old Roman forum, opposite the temple dedicated to Emperor Augustus (Aedes Augusti) one of the best preserved buildings of the Roman Astorga is sited. It is the Ergastula, a great vaulted gallery (sort of semi-subterranean tunnel, of approximately 50 metres long) which would form one of the sides of the monumental complex of the forum.
Today, the preserved part represents a spectacular gallery whose walls and vault were made in opus caementicium or Roman concrete, planked in wood. Its construction may date back to the year 30 A.C. After several modern uses- as part of houses or private commerces, among others- it was purchased by the City Council as the base of the Roman Museum of the city.
The extraordinary development of the urban archaeology in Astorga during the last twenty years has allowed us to have at our disposal a volume of information about its past of an incalculable historical value. The large amount of excavated sites, besides the buildings that can be visited, has provided us with a good deal of everyday life and artisans items, and with interior decorations too. The Roman Museum is the perfect place to make them known.
The restoration of the Ergastula was carried out to locate this museum; two more floors were built above it, one for permanent exhibitions and the other one with working rooms of the municipal archaeological department. It was inaugurated in the year 2000.
Pompeii style paintings, inscriptions, bronzes, coins, jewels or pottery found under the houses of the modern city are reflections of the vibrancy of the city itself in the Antiquity and they show the lifestyle of its inhabitants, providing us with an overall view of its history in the first five centuries of the Age.