Conimbriga – Roman Ruins

The restored city of Conimbriga lies about 16 kilometers south of Coimbra. It harbors ancient tiled mosaics, Roman homes, the baths and other items of interest. It’s a good idea to take a sack lunch and spend the day.

When the Romans trekked into the area around 1 A.D., they discovered Celts already ensconced in the area. The barbarians then showed up to take the Romans down. In spite of the defensive wall the Romans threw up in the middle of town, the Swabian barbarians were kings of the mountain by 468.

We loved to visit Conimbriga when we lived in Portugal. It was magical walking on those beautiful mosaics that were so carefully crafted all of those years ago. We seldom passed Coimbra (site of near Portugal’s oldest university) without looking for what progress the archaeologists had made since the last visit.

The archaeologists have continued to uncover the secrets of Conimbriga, and due to modern technology, you can see the progress they have made yourself. You will find a 360 degree surround look at the excavation site. When you see the depth and width of it, remember that it is only about 10 to 20 percent of what the archaeologists believe is underground.

Click here to see Conimbriga. You can start, stop and adjust the size of the photos. Tell me what you think!

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The Portugal Years – The First Year: Carnaval!

The Portugal Years – The First Year: Carnaval!

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The first known settlers in Portugal were groups of wandering Celts. They brought their pagan religions and festivals with them.  When the Romans arrived around 210 BC, they called it Lusitania. Christianity arrived in what would eventually become Portugal around the end of the first century A.D. The people of Lusitania had their own religion. When they embraced Christianity, they added it to a number of their existing festivals. 

Although most of the Portuguese festivals revolve around honoring the saints, Carnaval has roots mostly in the pagan religions of the settlers along with some Christian traditions. Those early roots included fertility rituals for good harvests.

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There is a lot of tomfoolery going on as well as parades and parties. The idea behind it is for people to get the urge to sin out of their system. If you are interested in reading more, you can go here. It is the Portuguese version of Nola’s Mardi Gras, celebrated over the three days before Lent (and penitence) kick in.

That first year – well, it was interesting. Many Portuguese enjoy watching Rio’s Carnaval on the TV. I have to admit that in many ways I lived a fairly sheltered life growing up in Fundamentalism. That first year of watching select portions of Rio’s televised (and uninhibited) parades was quite a revelation – in more ways than one. The Portuguese parades were more conservative, possibly due to the significantly cooler temperatures.

So, are you ready to join the party in March of 2014?