Lisbon Underground

Lisbon Cathedral

As you’d expect in an ancient city, Lisbon holds a number of treasures from other civilizations under ground.  Every time a hole is dug up for a new metro station, an underground car park, or for any new building, it is common to find artifacts from the Roman, Moorish, and other periods of Lisbon’s past. Some are taken to the city’s museums, other less important creations are buried forever.

One find that has been kept in its original location just as it was found are the “Roman Galleries” in the center of the city. They’re found on Rua da Prata right below a bank, and are only open to visitors once a year. This year they are open on the 26th, 27th, and 28th of September.

Entrance will be free, and taking place between 10AM and 6PM.  Experts from Lisbon’s City Museum will take you through the space that was only discovered during the Great Earthquake of 1755. It is believed to be a cryptoportico (a vaulted support for a forum or Roman villa) dating between the first century B.C. and first century A.D. when Lisbon was the Roman city Olissipo.

Stand by number 77 of Rua da Conceição and wait for your turn to be allowed in. You may not book in advance, and since only a few people can enter at a time, be prepared to wait a while.

If you enjoy archaeological remains, also visit the free Roman Theater Museum and the scant ruins behind it. Then go down the street to the city’s medieval cathedral which shows archaeological digs in its cloisters (see photo above).  Complete your archaeological lesson with a visit to the Archaeology Museum in Belem.

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