The Roman Empire's Western Extremity

The Roman Empire's Western Extremity

The Romans In Portugal & Extremadura

ExperienceHistory

6th - 13th April 2020
(8 Days)

Guide : Dr Andy Fear

Tour price: £2,495

click here to book

The Roman Empire's Western Extremity

The Romans In Portugal & Extremadura

ExperienceHistory

Your Holiday Essentials

6th - 13th April 2020
(8 Days)

Return flights from London, 3 and 4 star hotels, buffet breakfast, 3-course dinner with drinks each evening, all entrance fees and expert guide throughout.

Activity Level: 2

Guide: Dr Andy Fear

Tour price: £2,495

Single supplement: £350
Deposit: £250
Price without flights: £2,345

Booking open

click here to book

Tour Introduction

The wealth and peace brought to the former province of Lusitania by the Romans are reflected in the magnificent monuments left for us to admire across the province and their variety allows us to see not just the richness of city life, but also the source of the riches and the infrastructure which allowed that life to flourish. This novel archaeological tour takes us through the Portuguese regions of Estremadura, Beiras and Alentejo and the Spanish region of Extremadura. Whilst we will visit many important Roman sites such as Conimbriga and Emerita Augusta, we will also learn how they generally settled in this western extremity of their empire at remote villas, infrastructure sites and even extant factories. We explore some of the region’s great cities such as Coimbra, Caceres, Evora and, of course, Lisbon. And we will enjoy some great historic hotels staying at Portuguese Pousadas and Spanish Paradores and sample the delicious regional cuisine for which they are renowned. The tour is led throughout by renowned Roman historian Dr Andy Fear of Manchester University who will provide insight, analysis and inspiring narrative to this fascinating period of history.

Background

The conquest of Lusitania, the most westerly of Rome’s possessions, began in the 180s BC after raids by the Lusitani tribe into Rome’s province of Further Spain. Lusitani were a fierce tribe, the Roman writer Pliny derives their name from the wild rites (lusus) of the wine god Pan. Long wars of expansion followed with the Lusitani at times giving as good as they got. One chieftain, Viriathus, remains a Portuguese national hero to this day. The area was eventually tamed by Caesar in the 60s BC. It was made a separate province in around 25 BC by the Emperor Augustus and given a new, purpose-built capital at Merida whose Roman name means “The Emperor’s City for veterans”. Two famous governors who would have known Merida were the short-lived emperor Otho and the brother of the the Emperor Severus, Geta. The province was a peaceful one, but never quite forgot its military roots. Units of Lusitanians are found in the Roman army and legionary veterans from Merida are even found buried at Chester. As well as these Celtiberian tribesmen, the area also contained pure Celts as town names like Mirobriga and Conimbriga show and some Phoenician traders had also ventured here. In prehistory the region was an important outpost of the Tartessic culture.

Highlights

  • With leading expert Dr Andy Fear
  • Visit Conimbriga, Alcantara, Troia, Alcacer & more
  • Explore the UNESCO listed town of Evora
  • Lisbon underground galerias romanas

"Well organised, clearly experienced and willing to go above and beyond to ensure a positive experience"

Itinerary

Day 1 – Conimbriga

Fly London to Lisbon and drive to the ruins of Conimbriga, the best preserved Roman town in Portugal. We will explore many of the surviving buildings and great houses dating from the 1st to 3rd centuries: Repuxos House with its wonderful garden with its original hydraulics and fantastic mosaics; the tunnels and stalls of the amphitheatre; the thermal baths and of course its forum and wonderful museum. Continue to Coimbra where we check-in to our hotel for one night and enjoy pre-dinner drinks and an introductory talk.

Day 2 – Coimbra - Caceres

We take a short exploration of this important university city including its fine Roman cryptoporticus and interesting Macheda museum. Drive to the stunning bridge over the River Tagus at Alcantara, so well-built, that until only recently articulated wagons were crossing over it. Today access is limited to lighter traffic and so we can safely walk its length and see the aedicule dedicated to Trajan. Thence to Caceres where we check-in for the night at the Renaissance Palace parador located in the heart of Caceres.

Day 3 – Caceres - Emerita Augusta

Just outside Caceres we find an excellent example of a Roman camp dating to the 2nd century BC, whilst in the city itself we visit the lovely Museum of Roman Art. Travel to Merida, the one-time Roman capital of Lusitania founded in the 1st century BC known as Emerita Augusta. It boasts one of the finest collections of extant Roman architecture in the Iberian Peninsula. We will spend more than a day exploring its theatre, amphitheatre, circus, bridges and water management systems, temple, many residential buildings and the superb Museum of Roman Art. Check in to our Merida parador, a former 18th century convent, for one night.

Day 4 – Medellin – Emerita Augusta

We travel out to the superb Roman theatre nestled below the romantic ruins of Medellin’s medieval castle whilst at Quintana de la Serana we find a Roman watchtower and quarry. This afternoon we return to Merida to continue our discovery of this exciting Roman city.

Day 5 – Proserpina Dam and Badajoz

Built to ensure a bountiful water supply to Emerita Augusta, we walk over this earth dam with its retaining wall which still serves the purpose it was designed for 2000 years ago. Thence to the Roman villa at Torre Aguila with its Octagonal and Summer rooms with their hypocaust, the thermal baths and mill and press. We continue to Badajoz where we visit its wonderful archaeological museum. We spend the night in the delightful fortified city of Elvas just inside the Portuguese border, our hotel built in to the actual walls.

Day 6 – Evora and Alcacer

We spend the morning in Evora where there is the opportunity to explore this UNESCO listed town, including the wonderful Roman Temple surrounded by a host of equally magnificent medieval religious buildings and its fascinating museum. After lunch we visit the Roman Villa of Sao Cucufate ending our day at Alcacer do Sal where we find the remains of a Roman cult site and a small museum. Check-in to our pousada hotel, at once both a former convent and a castle, for one night.

Day 7 – Mirobriga and Troia

We drive to Santiago do Cacem with its lovely castle and the important Roman archaeological site of Mirobriga with its baths, Forum and hippodrome. Thence to the Roman remains on the Troia Peninsula which include an extant garum factory! Continue to Lisbon for our last night.

Day 8 – Home

Transfer to Lisbon airport for the return flight to London.

Recommended Reading List

Photo Gallery

Your Holiday Essentials

6th - 13th April 2020
(8 Days)

Return flights from London, 3 and 4 star hotels, buffet breakfast, 3-course dinner with drinks each evening, all entrance fees and expert guide throughout.

Activity Level: 2

Guide: Dr Andy Fear

Tour price: £2,495

Single supplement: £350
Deposit: £250
Price without flights: £2,345

Booking open

click here to book

Tour Review

View images of our 2018 tour here

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