The Iberian Peninsula was an important region in the roman period and so far, archeological sites have been found as well as the numerous monuments and buildings in many Portuguese cities.
As we love history and archeology we wanted to visit one of the most important, well preserved and richest archeologic sites in the country, Conímbriga.
Located in Condeixa-a-velha, in Coimbra, it was an important capital of the Roman period in 139 B.C. it is classified as a National Monument.
Although it has traces of pre-historical civilisations it was better developed within the roman occupation, especially during the reign of Emperor Augustus, responsible for building most of the public buildings such as the Forum and the aqueduct.
The imposing, strong and thick walls city walls are largely intact. The remains of and foundations of many houses and some fundamental buildings such as the Forum, amphitheatre and thermal bath area can be easily seen along the way.
Surely the most well preserved area is the Casa dos Repuxos (Fountain house) with its beautiful central gardens and around 500 fountains with the original hydraulic system and surrounded by original figurative mosaics with hunting scenes, seasons and mythology.
The area has only been excavated around 20% but still worth visiting. The big houses such as the Cantaber, the biggest one and the Cruz Suástica, with its geometric mosaics are so impressive.
Admire the mosaics from the forum and you can feel how important this political centre once was.
Visit the 3 thermal bathe areas and understand about roman engineering and the simple and effective network of stone heating ducts beneath the now-missing floors.
You can step up and down and walk in the amphitheatre tunnels in the footsteps of gladiators and slaves. This monument measured originally 90x60x20 metres and is currently about 4 metres underground, with some rural houses built using part of the structure. It had an estimated capacity of 5000 spectators. This area is scheduled to be further excavated.
Before you leave the site, you must visit the museum, with remarkable pieces found during many years of excavation. You can also understand a bit more about the inhabitants everyday lives, religion, architecture, decoration and the workings of the forum.
Leaving Conímbriga there is another place you must visit, the Roman Village and Museum of Rabaçal.
Only 12km from Conímbriga, the “Vila Romana do Rabaçal” was discovered after 1984 and it was an agricultural farm from around the 4th century.
It was divided into two distinct areas, one being the village where the slaves used to live and the other is where the manor house was situated, a few metres from the main building a bathhouse is found also.
The site still have some well-preserved mosaics and the Museum, totally dedicated to the Village, is laiden with the finds after many excavations.
Although Conímbriga is not the biggest Roman City in Portugal, surely is the most well preserved and yet a very important city and certainly a place to visit.