CONIMBRIGA TOURISM GUIDE
The remains of one of Europe's most sophisticated Roman towns
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Conimbriga, one of Europe's great Roman archaeological finds and one of the best preserved in the Iberian peninsula, is sixteen kilometers (10 miles) from Coimbra.
It was first a Celtic settlement in the Iron Age, but was occupied by the Romans in the 1st century A.D., who turned it into a prosperous city. It was destroyed during the barbarian invasions, when the Suevi attacked in 468 A.D.
The life of the Romans in Conimbriga can be traced in the House of
Cantaber, the residence of a nobleman and one of the largest houses ever
discovered in the western Roman empire. The opulent villa included its own
bathing complex, a sophisticated heating system, ornamental pools, and
Nearby is the House of the Fountains, now under a protective cover. It is a good example of early Roman design and architecture, with bases of columns, fountains, pictorial mosaics, and paving stones.
The mosaics on the entire site are in almost perfect condition, with incredibly detailed and colorful designs that include motifs of beasts, hunting scenes, and mythological themes, with one showing Perseus offering Medusa's head to a monster from the deep. There are also ruins of temples, a forum, an aqueduct, water conduits, drains, and elaborate piping systems that heated the town's public and private bathrooms.
A wonderful museum on the site that should be visited before the ruins, recounts the daily life of this sophisticated town. It displays large finds such as statues, funerary monuments, mosaics (one of which shows the Minotaur's head in a maze), and a colossal head of Augustus Caesar that originally stood in the town's Augustan temple.
Although there are some notes in English around the site, it is worth investing in a plan or the guidebook of the site at the ticket office in order to make sense of it all. Don't visit on a Monday, when the museum is closed.
There's an infrequent bus from Coimbra to Conimbriga, and another service that stops at Condeixa-a-Nova less than two kilometers (about a mile) away, where it is possible to walk or hire a taxi to the ruins. Condeixa-a-Nova has a pousada that occupies a converted palace, a good choice for those who wish to stay overnight between Coimbra and Conimbriga.
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- Old university town; a tragic love story
Figueira da Foz - The country's longest beach; exceptional Delft tiles; casino fun.
Buçaco - Manueline exuberance in a garden of Eden; the site of Napoleon's defeat
Aveiro - Colorful boats down attractive canals; a princess-saint; fine porcelain; a lovely fairytale castle
Alcobaça - Europe's greatest Cistercian temple
Batalha - European Gothic masterpiece; spectacular underground caves
Tomar - Manueline flourishes in "the home of the knights"; "a haunted castle"
AND TAGUS VALLEY
Castelo de Vide
Vila Real de Santo António
BEIRAS (CENTRAL PORTUGAL)
Figueira da Foz
Serra da Estrela
PORTO AND DOURO
Gerês National Park
Ponte de Lima
Ponte da Barca
Viana do Castelo