The Romans were famous for their engineering and architecture. They endured for a very long time throughout the Mediterranean and beyond. Portugal was part of the Roman Empire for hundreds of years and so also boasts many stunning Roman sites. One of the largest excavated Roman settlements in Portugal is Conimbriga which is a great place to go and learn about the ancient Romans.
There are plenty of different Roman ruins to see and explore. The Romans were famous for their great roads that they built all through the region and today one can still explore many of them. The Romans also expanded further than many people might think they did, one can still see Roman ruins deep into Scotland.
The Story Of The Roman City Of Conimbriga
Conimbriga actually pre-dates the Romans and was originally a Celtic settlement. "Briga" is a Celtic word for a defended area). But what one sees today and the town's growth and prosperity happened after the arrival of the Romans (who arrived in the 2nd century BC). Later, a three-nave basilica was built in the town’s center.
- Roman Occupation: From 139 BC
- Capital: It Was The Regional Capital City of the Lusitania Province
Conimbriga benefited from being in a strategic position on the main drag between Lisbon (Olisipo) and Braga (Bracara Augusta).
It was a walled urban settlement with its main entrance defended by two towers. Only around 10 miles away is the Coimbra. Originally Coimbra was called Aeminium but when the Germanic tribe of the Suebi razed the town of Conimbriga in 468, the inhabitants fled to Aeminium but kept the original name of their town.
- Razed: By The Suebi In 468 (In The Twilight Years Of The Roman Empire)
Conimbridga is today classified as a National Monument in Portugal. One will find a visitors' center complete with a restaurant/cafe and gift shop. It also displays artifacts found by archeologists during their excavations of the site. The exhibit includes coins, surgical tools, utensils, and ceramics. There are also mosaics, sculptural fragments, jewelry, and a range of everyday household items.
- Museum: There Is A Small Museum At The Site
- Facilities: Includes A Visitor's Center with A Restaurant and Gift Shop
The ruins of Conimbriga are extensive and are wonderfully preserved. Some of the more notable highlights include villas paved with orate floor mosaics and the old 3rd-century defensive wall.
- Largest: Conimbriga Is The Largest And Most Impressive Roman Site In Portugal
- Opening Hours: Every day: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
- Closed: On January 1st, Easter Sunday, May 1st, and December 25th
The Ruins One Will See At Conimbridga
The impressive walls were built later on as the security of the empire started to decline. They were built in the 3rd century to keep out the barbarians that were marauding their way through parts of the Empire. The wall was built right through the city center with much of the older residential parts of the city just left abandoned.
Under the walls are a series of mosaic-floored villas. Some of the more notable villas are:
- Casa dos Repuxos: 1st Century Villa With the Most Impressive Mosaics Including Hunting Scenes
- Casa de Cantaber: The Largest Private Villa In The Town
- Casa dos Esqueletos: Means House of Skeletons and has Great Mosaics
- Casa da Cruz Suástica: House of the Swastika (To The Romans It Was A Symbol of Good Luck)
As with so many ancient Roman towns and cities, one can also find the old Roman baths (there are serval bathing complexes in the city (the largest is the Grandes Termas do Sul). And then there are the ruins of the aqueduct and the forum.
Roman Ruins of Conimbriga and Sicó Mountain
If one would like a guided tour of the ruins of Conimbrida, then there are tours listed on Viator.com. This tour lasts four around 4 hours and includes pickup from one's hotel in Coimbra and a trip to the natural caves in the Sicó mountain.
From there one will enjoy breathtaking views of the mountains and rural villages and the numerous olive trees of the region. The tour then heads to the cheese capital, the village of Rabaçal, where everyone will taste the delicious cheese accompanied by the dark bread, also typical of the region.
Finally, the tour heads to the Roman ruins of Conímbriga where the guide will explain the 2,000 years of history.
- Duration: 4 Hours
- Cost: From $62.00