Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Exploring Roman Portugal

During the Roman period Portugal was known as Lusitania. The Romans arrived in Portugal in the 2nd century BC and left a lasting legacy that can still be seen in the country’s architecture, language, and culture today. Roman cities such as Conimbriga, Ammaia, and Milreu showcase the impressive engineering and urban planning skills of the Romans, while the use of Latin in the Portuguese language is a testament to the enduring influence of Roman culture.

Roman Sites & Ruins in Portugal

Roman Temple, Évora

As one of the finest Portuguese cities, Évora is rightly a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Much of the remarkable architectural heritage dates to the 15th century. Évora was, however, also an important Roman town, then known as Liberalitas Julia. Built during the 1st century AD on the ancient town’s acropolis, the ruined temple is one of the most significant Roman landmarks in Portugal today. The temple thought to have honoured Augustus is referred to as the Temple of Diana, but there is no evidence for this.

Roman Thermae of Maximinus

On one of the higher points within the city of Braga are the extensive archaeological remains of a large, civic complex, the oldest sections of which date back to the 1st century BC. Although only partially excavated, the complex is thought to have included the public baths and theatre for the Roman civitas of Bracara Augusta then the capital of the Roman province of Gallaecia. Parts of the public baths have been covered with a protective shelter, with walk ways that allow visitors to walk above the ruins.

Trajano Roman Bridge, Chaves

Built towards the end of the 1st century AD and the beginning of the 2nd century AD, the bridge crossing the Tâmega River in the town of Chaves in far northern Portugal is named after the Roman Emperor Trajan, known locally then as the Ponte de Trajano. Still in very good shape, the bridge is 140 m long and has 12 arches – earliest drawings of the bridge show 14. Despite being restored over the years, two of the columns are original and have inscriptions detailing honours bestowed on locals by the Emperor.

Museums with Roman Collections in Portugal

Évora Museum - Museu de Évora

Officially known as the Museu Nacional Frei Manuel do Cenáculo after the man who began bringing the objects together, the Évora Museum is housed in what was the Archbishop’s Palace. The museum has over 20,000 artefacts reflecting the various periods of the city’s history. This begins with the Roman period, of which there is a large collection of carved and inscribed and carved stone. There is also an important collection of 15th century Portuguese paintings showing Flemish influence.

National Museum of Archaeology - Museu Nacional de Arqueologia

Housed in the west wing of the Gothic Jerónimos Monastery, this is the largest and most important archaeology museum in Portugal. Artefacts from all periods of Portugal’s past, from archaeological sites throughout the country on permanent display in ‘Treasures of Portuguese Archaeology’. The museum also has an extensive collection of Egyptian antiquities, of which about 300 objects are on permanent display.