The Conímbriga ruins, in Condeixa-a-Nova, near the city of Coimbra, are one of the richest archaeological places in Portugal and even in the Iberian Peninsula. They represent an ancient Roman city that stretches over a very vast area and is equipped with spas, amphitheater, forum and aqueduct. It’s a place where it’s impossible to remain indifferent when imagining what the city would be like in the past.
How to get there
The best way to visit this tourist attraction is, without a doubt, by car . From Porto the trip takes about 1 hour so you can easily do the roundtrip on the same day. From Coimbra it’s much faster as the Conímbriga ruins are a 20-minute drive from the historic center. At the entrance to the ruins there is a large car park where you can leave your car for free.
The city of Conímbriga is known for being one of the largest areas of Roman remains in Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula. There are traces of ceramic articles that prove that the city already existed at the time of the Copper Age (1200 b.C.) and the Bronze Age (3300 b.C.) and there is even the possibility that its existence dates back to the Stone Age (6000 b.C.). The arrival of the Romans and their emperor Augustus to the city only happened between the 2nd and 1st centuries b.C. but it was only years later, around the 2nd century a.C. that the city developed and became a relevant Roman city. It was at that time that the public baths and the city forum were built. Towards the end of the fourth century and, with the decline of the Roman Empire, a monumental wall was built but that didn’t prevent the assault by the Suebi and the consequent decline of Conímbriga that was abandoned.
It was only many centuries later… at the end of the 19th century that the area started to be excavated and the ruins of Conímbriga were opened to the public in 1930. Excavation work continues constantly, with new discoveries being made almost every year. Currently, Conímbriga is visited annually by about 100 thousand people.
The ticket to visit the Conímbriga ruins includes an outside visit (to the ruins of the city) and a visit to the museum where you can get a clearer idea of what the city was really like. There are several different prices but the standard ticket costs 4,50€ and then the senior ticket (over 65 years old) and students ticket costs 2,25€. Visits for children under 12 years old, unemployed, visitors with reduced mobility and on Sundays and holidays after 2pm are free.
It was after 11.00h when we arrived at the Conímbriga ruins. The car park was practically empty and there was only a security man at the entrance. Right at the entrance there are several orange trees and while my boyfriend and I were discussing whether they were orange or tangerine trees, one of the staff guys came to us to introduce the ruins. We then went with him to the ticket office where we had to disinfect our hands and measure the fever (measures related to COVID-19). We bought the tickets (two student tickets – benefits of having the student card still valid ). The official advised us to visit the exterior first and to finish the visit at the museum. And so we did. We visited the ruins and as it’s super normal on any trip for me, it was under maintenance works ! Fortunately, it was just the part of the thermal springs! We made the whole journey following the arrows and the indications that exist. We visited the thermal baths, the forum, the fountains, the amphitheater, the square and the temple. There are areas in better condition than others, the worst of which, in my opinion, is the temple, given that it only has half a dozen stones. Perhaps because it was the best preserved area, the area I liked the most was Casa dos Repuxos, which has an incredible floor with mosaics, some bushes and a fountain in the middle.
As the number of cars in the parking lot anticipated, the ruins were practically empty and we didn’t come across anyone during the entire visit. We were there for about 2.30h and we spent a lot more time outside than in the museum (20/30 minutes is perfect enough to see the museum).
Visiting the Conímbriga ruins is a great plan for sunny days (the ruins are outdoors so I wound’t recommend them if it’s raining). It’s amazing to imagine how those ruins were once a Roman city. In fact, I think that I was only able to understand the size and organization of the city well after seeing the model that exists in the museum.
If you are passing through Coimbra don’t forget to take a quick visit to the Conímbriga ruins! And don’t forget to follow the blog’s instagram where I share all the new publications, tips and curiosities.