“Debe levantarse el edificio
según lo que valga el campo
y la fortuna de su amo”.
(Palladio, De re rustica, I, 8,1)
The roman villa of La Olmeda is placed north of Palencia, inside the municipality of Pedrosa de la Vega. It was originated along the Flavian period, as the structures of a first placement north of the principal building seem to testimony. In the middle of the 4th century a dramatic change took place, the former building was abandoned or was given a new purpose and a new one was erected.
The new building is a splendid construction, with two independent areas connected by a wide corridor. One of them was the residence of the owners, with the bath facilities to the west. Its total extension expands over 4.400 square meters, including more than 1.400 square meters of mosaics.
The main house is square, with a central courtyard surrounded by open galleries as a typical peristyle villa. The north and south façades are porticoed, and they are flanked by octagonal towers in the south and square towers in the north.
The oecus or main room of the building (more than 175 square meters) displays the main figurative mosaics preserved at La Olmeda. They are composed by three different themes. The one next to the entrance is a dynamic hunting scene. At the center of the room there is a mythic scene, the legend of the discovery of Achilles by Ulysses when Achilles was hidden dressed as a woman in the island of Scyros, inside the gyneceum of the palace of the king Lycomedes. The third theme the frame surrounding the scene of Achilles and Ulysses, maybe the most important of the three because of its singularity and careful execution. It is composed by a series of medallions depicting masculine and feminine faces as a gallery of family portraits of the owners of the villa.