Tucked away not far from Coimbra, in central Portugal, Conimbriga is undeniably among the best-preserved ancient treasures of the Iberian Peninsula.
With its stunning mosaics and grand fortifications, Conimbriga’s ruins are an absolute must-visit. Embark on an exploration of this timeless ancient city!
💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
Curious about Coimbra’s history? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the capital (in English). You can choose the tip you want to leave the guide—it’s entirely up to you!
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A Glimpse into the Ancient Ruins of Conimbriga
The Beginnings of Conimbriga
Conimbriga’s tale traces back to the Iron Age, around the 9th century BC. As the Romans expanded their reach across the Iberian Peninsula, they set foot in Conimbriga in 138 BC. General Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus, following the demise of Viriatus, spearheaded the Roman push into this western region. He integrated the indigenous Celtic tribes and laid the foundation for the thriving settlement of Conimbriga.
The Roman City of Conimbriga: From Glory to Desolation
As time passed, Conimbriga saw multiple urban transformations, notably during the Flavian era. Positioned on the route connecting Olisipo and Bracara Augusta, Conimbriga emerged as a hub for the affluent and deeply Roman-influenced elite. Yet, by the 3rd century, the city erected fortifications against looming invasions. Tragically, these defenses couldn’t fend off the Suebi invasions in 465 and 468, leading the inhabitants to seek refuge in Coimbra.
Lost to the annals of time, modernity stumbled upon the ruins of Conimbriga. With its populace long gone, the city astonishingly stood the test of time, becoming an archaeological goldmine.
Major excavations kicked off in 1913, with subsequent digs by the French archaeological team in Portugal from 1974 to 1976. These excavations confirmed human presence on the site since the 9th century BC.
Exploring Conimbriga: Highlights
Situated a short drive from Coimbra, Conimbriga stands as one of Portugal’s premier ancient landmarks. While not the largest, its preservation is unparalleled nationwide. Its near-pristine walls echo the splendor of its heyday.
So, adventurers, let’s dive in!
Conimbriga boasts exquisite mosaics that grace various edifices. These remarkably preserved artworks, with intricate designs and vivid hues, provide a captivating window into Roman aesthetics.
The Conimbriga baths are a site to behold. Wander through the different bath sections and marvel at the hypocausts, ancient heating systems that warmed the waters.
City Walls and Fortifications:
Conimbriga’s walls, standing tall, are a testament to the city’s former might. Yet, these grand fortifications couldn’t shield the city from the 5th-century Suebi onslaught.
Casa dos Repuxos (House of Fountains):
This urban villa is a showstopper, renowned for its fountains and intricate mosaics.
House with the Phallic Vase:
Another standout villa, it’s famed for its distinct designs and mosaics.
The on-site museum showcases relics unearthed by archaeologists. It offers a deep dive into Conimbriga’s daily life, culture, and Roman-era artifacts, including coins and surgical tools.
Roaming Conimbriga, you’ll encounter house foundations, temples, an aqueduct, and more, all underscoring the city’s ancient opulence.
Getting to Conimbriga
Located 16 km from Coimbra and a stone’s throw from Condeixa-a-Nova, reaching Conimbriga from Coimbra is a breeze:
By bus: Hop on bus line 20 headed for Conimbriga.
By car: A straightforward drive from Coimbra, you’ll reach Conimbriga in under 20 minutes.
Tour: Consider taking an English-guided tour from Coimbra to the ruins of Conimbriga
Conimbriga Operating Hours
Conimbriga welcomes visitors every day, except Mondays, from 10 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
A ticket to explore Conimbriga will set you back €4 at full price.
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