The Roman Ruins of Conimbriga

Our first day trip from Coimbra (pronounced Kweem-bra) was to the Roman ruins of Conimbriga. It pales in comparison to the grandiose expanse of Pompeii, but it’s still fascinating to look at the stone foundations and mosaics that have been excavated and in some ways, much more approachable.

What’s most amazing is that only about 10-15% of the ruins have been excavated. Apparently, the Romans built upon an existing town throughout several centuries. There is one area where they have been able to excavate underneath the Roman ruins to the pre-Roman settlement and although one of the downsides of looking at a few pieces of stone is that the untrained eye has a hard time distinguishing the more interesting details, it’s still fascinating to contemplate. It must have been a great site because later the Visigoths added to the Roman settlement and eventually a medieval town obscured whatever was underneath, hiding and protecting the site until the late 19th century.

Unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries, but the museum also has some great pieces from excavations. Everything at the museum is from Conimbriga and they have actively worked to obtain pieces that were sent to other museums in order to create a more complete picture of Roman life.

Village cat in the ruins

Alyson standing in the Roman gymnasium

Side Note: There was only one bus to the site from Coimbra. Otherwise we would have had to walk 2km from the closest town. At this point, we were beginning to learn that bus travel in Portugal is both fascinating and horrific. This trip, luckily, was the former, winding our way through the hills outside of Coimbra and listening to the local ladies chatter about their shopping trips.


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