Journeys and Discoveries: Conimbriga

For the next two months, we will be looking at the theme of journeys and discoveries. This month I will be looking at the lesser known Roman ruin in central Portugal – Conimbriga.

Conimbriga was a  settlement, from about the 1st Century BC the Romans had occupied it and developed it substantially. There were the Conii people living there previously, but it is now considered Roman due to their influence on it. It is located just south of the modern city of Coimbra.

Portugal Map Crop Ring

It is quite dramatic walking onto the site for the first time. The whole area is surrounded by stone buildings. When you approach down the slope, you are finally greeted with an amazing view over the ruins which really is a sight to behold.

Entrance with slope down to site
Entrance with slope down to site

There are many mosaics that are in a beautiful condition as well as many foundations of roman rooms, which give an impression of what life was like.

Roman mosaic
Roman mosaic

Here we see the remains of the old Roman Baths, that were heated.

Roman bath structure
Roman bath structure

One of the highlights was the restored roman forum, (the city centre) which really showed the wonders of roman architecture. The bright white columns dazzled the eyes as the  sunlight reflected off them (despite the cloud it was still quite intense).

Roman Forum
Roman forum

The museum inside was also interesting albeit in a smaller area. It was fascinating to see how roman influence in the area impacted upon the daily lives of people. There are also some very interesting artefacts such as roman pottery, scale models of the settlement and even items such as fertility symbols!

I would highly recommend a visit to Conimbriga as it has both a very interesting ruins site and museum. Even if you are pushed for time a quick walk around the ruins is well worth it!


‘Journeys and Discoveries’ in Gardening – Coimbra University Botanical Garden

In the Portuguese city of Coimbra, there is a large, historic University (Universidade de Coimbra). Herein lies a beautiful and tranquil botanical garden.

The garden is divided into a series of terraces, which culminate in a large fountain at the bottom.

At one entrance you are immediately struck by the sheer number of different palm trees juxtaposed against a large number of conifers and deciduous trees. For any plant lover it seems almost impossible to see plants which normally wouldn’t be able to be grown together, growing together. This is thanks to central Portugal getting a good amount of rain in the winter months to satisfy plants associated with further north and never getting cold enough to kill the tender plants.

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The entrance, looking down the stairs

Upon entering the garden only part of what is here has been revealed.

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View to the right

Immediately to the right, you can see large palm trees and formal beds.

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View up the stairs

Coming down a little further you can admire the palms on the right and the bold stone arches at the entrance.

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Gate to the bottom

Just peaking through the gate to the bottom of the garden, you can see the fountain awaiting to be fully revealed.

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Finally the fountain is revealed! In the water, large floating green leaves can only be..

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Waterlilies in Fountain


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View looking back

Moving past the fountain and looking back you can see the formal box hedged squares with topiary trees in the middle.

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Flowerbed in front of Greenhouse

Moving further still you can see an attractive flowerbed with Petunias in flower and bright Coteus further back. This is in front of a large greenhouse.

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Jacaranda in bloom

A Large Jacaranda tree is also in flower here.

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Ficus Macrophylla

A beautiful Ficus Macrophylla is also here, notable for its architectural trunk and rubbery dark green leaves.

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Palm Trees

Coming towards the end of the garden you are once again presented with a series of stone steps and a backdrop that looks like something out of Jurassic Park.

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Stone Arches

Upon leaving the garden you are boldly presented with these impressive stone arches.

Overall it’s well worth a visit and apparently in Autumn is quite spectacular.

Cultural Journeys & Discoveries

DSCN1011 (800x600)Summer is fast approaching and we are all planning or currently having our holidays away, so we decided on the extended two month in depth theme of ‘Cultural Journeys and Discoveries.’ We plan to include write ups of our recent travels and what we have learned and include gorgeous images of interesting cultural items that we have found. Very soon we also hope finally to have an Instagram account so keep your eyes peeled for that one!

As well as documenting the interesting parts of our travels we will be looking at the best of cultural discoveries in literature, film, gardens and cultural history. We will be looking at the theme broadly and in more detail. Journeys and discoveries can be both literal and metaphorical. There are countless examples in both literature and film alone to delve into and explore. There are also many stories about plant hunters, botanical discoveries and historical expeditions (and this is just scratching the surface). This is such a rich topic that should lead to some interesting and thought provoking posts and we look forward to creating them and bringing them to you over June and July. In fact the trouble might be knowing when to stop and being so selective! If you are going away also then have an excellent time and a rewarding trip! Share your travels with us on Facebook and Twitter!