The remains of the Roman city of Conímbriga are approximately 16 kilometers east of Coimbra. These are some of the best preserved ruins of a Roman city. Although only about one third of the ruins have been excavated, the richness of the Roman culture that was established in the Iberian peninsula can be seen in the artifacts and structures that have been found in Conímbriga.
Conímbriga was a prosperous village when the Romans arrived in the first half of the 2nd century BC. The indigenous population quickly submitted to the Roman rule and Conímbriga continued to prosper.
The site of Conímbriga was occupied for several centuries. Archeological research has found that the city was actively remodeled. Some buildings were destroyed to make way for new construction as part of the urbanization plan. Many of the buildings had elaborate mosaic floors.
The basement shops south of the road were first discovered in the 1940's, when the main road was excavated. The shops in the south side of the road were used for commerce and handicraft. The shops were built in the 1st century and demolished by the end of the 3rd or beginning of the 4th century, due to the construction of the Late-Imperial wall. A long subterranean corridor gave access to the basement stores. Additional excavation in the 1960's was able to establish that the basement rooms were progressively abandoned and blocked up.
The home of a relatively wealthy family had an interlaced swastika mosaic design on the floor of the residence. The swastika design represented the Sun and was considered by the Romans to bring good luck. The construction of the building that stood here dates to the 1st century AD, but some of the final details are from the 2nd century. The mosaic floor is from the 3rd century. However, the house was demolished soon after in order to construct the Late-Imperial wall. The house was excavated in the 20th century and the mosaics were restored in the 1950's.
The construction of a Forum, which was a large public area, buried an indigenous residential section that was previously on this site. The remains of this quarter constitute the best preserved remains of pre-Roman urbanism in Conimbriga. The site contains the remains of two houses made of adobe with calcareous blocks that had a central yard and two almost parallel streets.
The Romans were great hydraulic engineers. They were able to divert water into their gardens and baths. The water was also used to flush away waste.
Throughout the Conímbriga site, there are numerous ducts and channels that provided water to an estimated population of 10,000 inhabitants.
The Conímbriga site has an adjoining museum that displays many of the artifacts that have been found during the excavations.
The museum has exhibits demonstrating the skills of the Roman craftsmen in metallurgy, ceramics, jewelry and the manufacture of tools for various trades.