Today we headed to visit the ancient roman city of Conimbriga just south of the university town of Coimbra. This is one of the most important Roman sites in Portugal and one of the best preserved. Most of the excavated buildings relate to the 2nd to 5th centuries AD, the later periods of the Roman Empire. Conimbriga was a major stopping on the road between Lisbon and Braga.
We first explored the museum which had an amazing range and number of artifacts found on the site cleverly displayed to give an understanding of the daily life within the city.
From the museum we then explored the site of the city. The first thing that strikes you as enter the site is the huge wall (over 6m high) with a Roman road leading to it. This in fact was not the original wall of the city but one that was hurriedly erected in the later years of the Roman Empire when the city was attacked. The wall was built by demolishing some existing buildings and using anything to hand.
Another interesting aspect of the site was the extensive baths with amazing well preserved brickwork of the underfloor heating systems. There were also some impressive remains of two residences. The first the House of Canteber occupied a whole block and had a series of rooms, its own private baths and many courtyards. It was almost the size of a palace.
The second was the House of the Fountains another large aristocratic residence built in the first half of the 2nd century AD. The main features of this residence are the well preserved and impressive mosaic floors some depicting hunting scenes others a range of gods. The house itself was demolished to build the city wall.
This had been a truly fascinating place to visit and different to some of the other Roman sites we had visited on our travels.