The first written references about Baelo Claudia were founded in a manuscript dated 1663, which locates it in the current town of Barbate. In 1719 the Englishman John Conduitt identifies the city with the remains located in the Bolonia bay and Antonio Ponz in 1794 recognized the place as the site of the ancient city of Baelo Claudia. In 1907 the religious Belgian Jules Furgus identifies the theatre as an amphitheatre and he thinks to recognize as a temple of the Semitic god Baal.
Baelo Claudia is located in a small bay of the Cadiz coast in the western mediterranean sea, near the Strait of Gibraltar and delimited by the Paloma and Camarinal capes. This small bay is surrounded; by the elevations of the hill of San Bartolome east, and the mountains of La Higuera and La Plata west, which block the way to the interior, which is only accessible by the named port of Bologna.
The city was born in the late second century. b.C. on a older Phoenician-Punic settlement (Bailo, Baelokun), and its existence is closely related to trade with North Africa (it was the main seaport that connected with the city of Tangier in Morocco). Baelo Claudia may have some functions of administrative center, but the fishing salting industry and garum (a kind of fish sauce) were the main sources of wealth. The roman emperor Claudius awarded to this place the rank of municipium (Roman town).
The living of these populations reached the highest splendour between the first century b.C. and the second A.D. beginning its decline from the second half of the second century. Although it experienced a slight resurgence in the third century, the city was finally abandoned in the seventh century.
It was a port city dedicated to fishing and salting of tuna, as well as the production of "garum". See Garum. These activities took place during the summer months and the city attracted many seasonal workers, a fact that determines the characteristics of some of its buildings.
Since the end of the first century A.D. prosperity gradually comes to less coinciding with the crisis in the production of its factories, the invasions of North Africa (second century A.D.), the looting of the Germanic hordes (third century A.D.) and above all; an earthquake ruined the buildings erected during the imperial times; this fact accelerates the process of abandonment that was already suffering the city, yet they manage to keep their business relations to the fitht century A.D.
The following photo coverage may serve as a document for better understanding how were the Roman cities in the Hispania Ulterior.