Conímbriga  Archaeological Site




Location: 2 km (1 mi) South of Condeixa- a- Nova  Map


Open: 15 Mar- 15 Sep: 10am- 8pm daily

16 Sep- 14 Mar: 10am- 6pm daily

Closed: 25 Dec

Museum: Tel. 239 941 177

Open: 15 Mar- 15 Sep: 10am- 8pm Tue- Sun

16 Sep- 14 Mar: 10am- 6pm Tue- Sun


Conimbriga is a settlement established since the Copper Age, which was an important center during the Roman Republic and which continued to be inhabited until at least the 9th century.

It is one of the most extensive and diversified archaeological sites in Portugal. It is classified as a National Monument, having been the scene of excavations since the 19th century.

It is located 17 km from Coimbra, in the parishes of Condeixa-a-Velha and Condeixa-a-Nova, 2 km from Condeixa-a-Nova. The archaeological station includes the Monographic Museum of Conimbriga, where many of the artefacts found in archaeological excavations are on display.


The origin of the name of the village is not known for sure, some believe that it would be related to the cónios, people who lived in the current Baixo Alentejo, according to this hypothesis, with the addition of quarrel, celtic name, Conímbriga would mean "The fort of the Conios". . However, linguistic rules would make it Coniumbriga and not Conimbriga (so Conimbriga is written without an accent). Others think that the etymology of Conimbriga traces its origins to the very old pre-Celtic lexeme Kºn, which means "stony high", in this way this lexeme joined to the fight would mean "city located on a stony high".

The existence of Conimbriga is already known to exist in the 16th century, however, no work would be done until the 19th century when the first excavations began in 1898, in 1899 the first important surveys and the scientific study of the find began.

The history of this village is traced back to the Copper Age and the Bronze Age, however, there is a possibility that it already existed before, in the Stone Age. Remains from the Bronze Age were found, more specifically from the 9th and 8th centuries BC, among the objects found we can enumerate several ceramics, a fibula and a sickle.

oriental antiquity
In the last century, the Phoenicians, inhabiting what is now Lebanon, established several trading posts along the Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula. After crossing the Strait of Gibraltar they did the same on the Atlantic coast, one of them, in the Baixo Mondego area between Montemor-o-Velho and Mallorca, the Castro de Santa Olaia, was the one who traded with Conimbriga. In this market, ivories, combs, crockery and glass were sold, later on, Greek vases also began to be sold.

Classic antiquity
The first arrival of the Romans to which we have reference is from 138 BC, when the troops of Décimo Júnio Brutus, in his campaign to subjugate the Galicians, passed through the lands of Conímbriga.

Plínio, in his census of the tribes of the west of the Peninsula, speaks, below the Vouga, of oppida "cities" and not of populi "tribes". This tells us that the populations below the Vouga were larger and had a different form of organization, they would not have so many tribal ties but lineages, of which we are aware of two: the Dovilonici and the Pintones.

It would only be at the time of Augustus that Conimbriga would be renovated, the Roman Emperor sent architects to remodel and adapt it to Roman urbanism. The forum was the first building to be erected by the Romans. Soon after, the city's thermal baths were created, taking water from Alcabideque. An artificial wall was provided to the village, complementing the natural defensive position of the settlement, of 2 km, the wall line gave more than 23 ha for the expansion of Conimbriga. The Casa da Cruz Swastika and the Casa dos Esqueletos, which are next to the wall, with mosaics are from the 2nd and 3rd century.

The Romans brought with them new elements of civil engineering: marble, column, stucco, lime mortar and squared stone. This, together with the arrival of new concepts and methods, accelerated the growth of the settlement and created an architectural syncretism between the ancient local tradition and the Roman contemporary.

Conimbriga grew more and more, during the government of Vespasiano it became a municipality between 70 and 80. As a result of this expansion of the city, between 77 and 78 a citizen of Conimbriga, M. Júnio Latrão, was chosen as a priest of the imperial cult of Lusitania, this skill would force him to live in Emerita Augusta, now Mérida, the capital of the province. It is probable that this designation was made as a tribute to the settlement.

Later, between the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the city entered an obscure period, from which not much has come to our days. In the middle of the 3rd century the Empire began to be invaded by barbarian tribes, in 262 they crossed the Pyrenees and razed the peninsular Levant, there is no evidence that they reached the western Atlantic coast. In this climate of instability, Conimbriga's defenses were reinforced and so was the water system, including the aqueduct.

Middle Ages
Although the Empire had been under attack for a long time, the threats continued relatively far away, perhaps due to the geographical position of the region, however, that calm which the settlement had enjoyed would soon end, in 409 the Vandals and the Suebi attacked the Peninsula. In the region of Conimbriga, Lusitânia, the Alans would settle. This was a very unstable period, in which the barbarians made and broke the agreements with the Roman government and there was an unfavorable economic situation, in this climate of unrest, the most influential families of the cities, took power in these and became their own. gentlemen, in the case of Conimbriga everything seems to indicate that it was handed over to the Cantaber family.


The settlement falls in 464 under the yoke of the Suevi, the wife and offspring of the head of the household of Cantaber are kidnapped by them. The Suevi would return 4 years later, in 468, to raze the city and the region. The city will enter a period with little documentary information.

It is known that the city would not be abandoned this time (although it was already in decline), since in 561 it was the capital of a bishopric, its prelate, Lucentio, took part in the First Council of Braga. It is also noted that he still held the same position, the same prelate signed, in 572, the summary of the Second Council of Braga.

In 586 the region definitely fell under Visigothic rule, after a long time of struggle between them and the Suevi. In addition to signaling the definitive defeat of the Suevi Kingdom and the political unification of the peninsular under the Visigothic power, for Conimbriga it was the end, the bishop and the majority of his neighbors left it and went to live in Emínio (present-day Coimbra), this being the last location much more fertile and with a better supply of water, an essential commodity that was starting to become scarce at that time in Conimbriga. Thus taking the name of Conimbriga, still today the inhabitants of Coimbra, already designated as Conimbricenses.

It is known, however, that the settlement would continue to be inhabited, at least by some wealthy family, a coin minted in the reign of Rodrigo in the year 711, exactly the same year as the beginning of the Muslim Invasion of Hispania. Some coins from the Muslim era have still been found, which suggests that it had not yet been completely abandoned, however, before 1086, it would have been definitively uninhabited. The few people who still lived in it would settle in the neighboring valley and founded Vila Cova, later Vila Cova da Countess Domna Onega, which would become the current Condeixa-a-Velha.



Public buildings
It would only be at the time of Augustus that Conimbriga would be renovated, the Roman Emperor sent architects to remodel and adapt it to Roman urbanism.

The Conimbriga amphitheater, once full of earth, had an oval arena measuring more than 98 x 86 meters. To enter this enclosure, there were a total of six tunnels, three on each side. It is currently located in the village of Condeixa-a-Velha, with only one of the entrances being visible.

Forum (old)
The forum was the first building to be erected by the Romans. It became the center of life in the city, as it was where the authorities and commerce were located. On the west side, nine stores were assigned to merchants for the development of commercial activities. On the other side, from the east, were the curia and the basilica; the first was the place of debate between the two or four strongmen of the settlement, called magistros; in the second, there was the court.

Forum (new)
The new forum was erected as part of the celebration of the promotion of Conimbriga to municipality. The old forum was demolished and this one replaced it. This new one would no longer be the stage for justice or commerce. It was surrounded by high walls and the statues of recognized men were exposed.

It is known that the new forum would remain standing until the 5th century when a colossal cistern was placed in one of its areas.

The entrance to the square was made through an arch, from there one reached the temple and a fountain, we can infer that there was a place of worship here; on the other side, to the west, given the bad preservation it is impossible to determine its use. The pillars were ornamented with fillets that divided them in half-cane.

The square had a portico that surrounded it on three different sides. Ahead there was another portico, which served as an entrance to the porch of the temple.

The Conimbriga temple is in a very bad state of conservation, with only a few stones remaining. The temple was so small that only the divine statues could fit in it, there would be no space for religious services to be held. This building was connected to the square by a small side staircase.

hot springs
The baths also date back to the time of Augustus. As there was no spring in Conimbriga that could support the water supply to the hot springs, it was decided to look for external sources of food. A well was found a little more than half a league away, which could support the demand.

The building had three divisions at the entrance for security and changing rooms. The thermal complex of Augusto is relatively small, but sufficient for the city, which was growing. As was the Roman norm for baths, there were three tanks; one of cold water (frigidarium), one of transitional warm water (tepidarium) and one of hot water (caldarium). Outside the baths themselves, the complex had a gym, known as Palestra (palaestra).

The houses in Conimbriga had a rectangular shape and were aligned, unlike the old settlements in the current regions of Beira central (Beira alta, Beira littoral), Trás-os-Montes, Galicia and Minho. Of note are the Casa de Cantaber, the Casa dos Repuxos, the Casa da Cruz Swastika and the Casa dos Esqueletos.

Conimbriga Monographic Museum - National Museum
The Monographic Museum of Conimbriga - National Museum is the museum in charge of publicizing the findings of the archaeological site of Conimbriga and is entirely dedicated to this. It was created in 1962, parallel to the resumption of the exploration activity in the Ruins.

With this new classification, the Museum will be able to benefit from community funds intended for the exploration and study of the Conimbriga Ruins, all possible thanks to the Protocol signed with the DGPC in June 2015 and the collaboration between the Government and the Municipality of Condeixa-a-Nova through the Infrastructural Development program of the Conímbriga Museum Program. Investments to enhance the remains amount to three million euros in total.