Portugal Day 1 - A Visit to Conimbriga
Portugal 2021 - Day 1
My first full day in Portugal was a relatively chilled one, after an entire day the day before travelling. When I say entire day travelling, I mean I was awake for well over 24 hours. The tired was very, very real. So the plan was, on day 1, not to go too far from home. It just so happens that just down the road from my parents place in the archaeological site of the city of Conimbriga. Now this site is very, very special - it is not only one of the biggest sites in Europe, but it is the richest Ancient Roman site in Portugal with a number of in situ mosaics which are absolutely stunning.
Now, I don't know a huge amount about the ancient Roman world, and probably remember even less about it from my University days. But occasionally I'll dip in to some Ancient Roman history - anything by the eminent Mary Beard is always a must read for me. But there's something about Roman archaeology that makes me stop and think "holy shit" - I spent so much time in awe when I dug at the two Roman villas in Dinnington and Blacklands, and part of me wishes I'd carried on learning about the era properly. We decided today to head to the site of Conimbriga for a few hours.
Conimbriga was originally a pre Roman settlement occupied by the Celtic Connii tribe. Following 139 BC and the Roman takeover of the region, the city was completely taken hold of by the invading Romans, who completely assimilated the local people. During the second century AD the city was at its height, with a stunning public baths and Forum being built. As we know from history, after the 4th Century AD the Roman Empire started to decline and due to this, Conimbriga was deserted.
It cost a grand totally of €4.50 to get in, and let me tell you it is more than worth it. Not only do you get to visit the extensive ruins, but you also get access to the cute little museum which is chock full of little items and exhibits showing how life would have been lived in the city back in those days. The every day objects from weights and measures to pottery to coins, it was just wonderful. Then in the other room you have more mosaics as well as funerary monuments. Add that on to a sweet little restaurant, of which the prices aren't crazy high and a gift ship in which the prices are actually really damn good...
I'm very impressed. It was a pleasant site to visit and somewhere that I learned a lot. It wasn't busy either, not ram packed with tourists which was almost bitter sweet. Whilst I'm not a huge fan of very busy tourist attractions, it's small places like this that I feel deserve more attention.
If any of your ever find yourself in Portugal, please do head on over to Conimbriga and have yourself a few hours wandering amongst the ruins, soaking up the history. I promise you won't regret it.