Spain & Portugal | Roman Lusitania

Cathedral of San Ildefonso
Cathedral of San Ildefonso
The Roman theatre at Mérida, originally constructed in the 1st century BC, with many subsequent additions and renovations throughout antiquity (©Tomás Fano)
The Roman theatre at Mérida, originally constructed in the 1st century BC, with many subsequent additions and renovations throughout antiquity (©Tomás Fano)
Castle of Medellín
Castle of Medellín
View over the countryside from Medellín
View over the countryside from Medellín
The Acueducto de los Milagros
The Acueducto de los Milagros
‘Los Milagros’ - ‘miraculous’ aqueduct at Mérida
‘Los Milagros’ - ‘miraculous’ aqueduct at Mérida
Victorious charioteer depicted in a mosaic from Mérida
Victorious charioteer depicted in a mosaic from Mérida
Gory boar hunt depicted in a mosaic in the Villa de las Tiendes, Merida
Gory boar hunt depicted in a mosaic in the Villa de las Tiendes, Merida

Mérida, the capital of Roman Lusitania was founded in 25BC by the victorious army of Emperor Augustus. During its imperial glory days, a large number of grand Roman monuments were erected; many, including the Forum, triumphal arch and amphitheatre, dominate the town to this day.

The superb evidence of the impact of Rome here is the main focus of our programme, but it is enhanced by some spectacular prehistoric and Medieval sites along the way. Our journey takes us from the coast at Lisbon through beautiful countryside; we see prehistoric tombs, Roman towns, and the sites of the 19th century Peninsular War.

  • Discover glorious Roman monuments and amazing feats of engineering in Spain and Portugal
  • Enjoy a unique programme, taking in prehistoric and medieval sites from the coast at Lisbon into Spanish Extremadura

Themes

  • Romans
  • Prehistory
  • Medieval
  • Historic Churches

Practicalities

  • Special Access
  • All Inclusive

Itinerary 2017

Day 1

We fly to Lisbon and drive to our Pousada hotel in Palmela.

Day 2

We travel by ferry to the site of Tróia, the largest fish-sauce production centre known from the Roman world. There are some 52 factories here in which the layers of salt and fish rotted to produce the ubiquitous sauces of the ancient world. We spend the afternoon exploring Évora, a former Roman town, and now a World Heritage Site. It still has Roman remains, notably, and in the late Medieval period was a favourite haunt of Portuguese monarchs.

Day 3

We have a specially arranged visit of the palatial remains at the major Roman Villa of Pisões, which is usually closed to the public.

We also see São Cucufate, a Roman villa that was rebuilt on a grand scale with gardens and a small temple. We glimpse the pre-Roman past at the major prehistoric site of Os Almendres, the largest group of megaliths in Portugal. In addition, we visit Anta Grande do Zambujeiro, the largest prehistoric burial chamber in the Iberian peninsula.

Day 4

Today, we travel to the border town of Badajoz, a town with a Moorish past, famously besieged by the British in 1812 during the Peninsular War. We visit the Alcazaba Museum, with its major collection of warrior stelae. We then continue to Mérida, named after the veterans who were settled here by Augustus.

Day 5

We spend a full day exploring Roman Mérida, a simple Spanish provincial town still dominated by the remains of its Roman past. It was important throughout the Roman period and beyond. The Roman remains are outstanding, including the bridge over the River Guadiana, a large amphitheatre, a splendid theatre, a fine circus and the ‘Temple of Diana’. At the Archaeological Museum we view fine displays of objects, including mosaics.

Day 6

We briefly leave the Romans behind to visit the castle at Medellín, the birthplace of conquistador and conqueror of the Aztecs, Hernan Cortés. This afternoon we return to Mérida for further exploration: including the Visigothic basilica of Sta Eulalia. Our Roman exploration continues when we visit the well-preserved Roman circus nearby. Up to 30,000 spectators once gathered here to watch the chariots race. We also marvel at the Roman dam of La Proserpina, which stored water for Roman Mérida to be transported by aqueduct.

Day 7

We visit the old town of Cáceres today, a perfectly preserved example of a Medieval town. Here we will visit the Archaeological Museum and tour the town itself.

Day 8

This morning, we visit the huge arches of the aqueduct known as Los Milagros, standing over 30m high, which brought water from the dam to the city. We drive to Lisbon via the fortress town of Elvas. We have a chance to see another aquaduct there, before travelling on to Lisbon for our flight home.

Itinerary 2018

Day 1

We fly to Lisbon and drive to our Pousada hotel in Palmela.

Day 2

We travel by ferry to the site of Tróia, the largest fish-sauce production centre known from the Roman world. We spend the afternoon exploring Évora, a former Roman town, and now a World Heritage Site.

Day 3

We travel to São Cucufate, a Roman villa that was rebuilt on a grand scale with gardens and a small temple. We glimpse the pre-Roman past at the major prehistoric site of Os Almendres, the largest group of megaliths in Portugal. Finally, we visit Anta Grande do Zambujeiro, the largest prehistoric burial chamber in the Iberian peninsula.

Day 4

Today, we drive to the border town of Badajoz, a town with a Moorish past, famously besieged by the British in 1812 during the Peninsular War. We visit the Alcazaba Museum, with its major collection of warrior stelae, we then continue to Mérida (Roman Emerita Augusta) named after the veterans who were settled here by Augustus.

Day 5

We spend the day exploring Roman Mérida, a provincial town still dominated by the remnants of its Roman past. The remains are outstanding, notably the bridge over the River Guadiana, the large amphitheatre, and the ‘Temple of Diana’. The Archaeological Museum has fine displays of objects, including mosaics.

Day 6

We travel to Alcántara, home of one of Spain’s orders of crusading knights, and with a remarkable Roman bridge. Continue to the old town of Cáceres, a perfectly preserved example of a Medieval town. We return to Mérida.

Day 7

We briefly leave the Romans behind to visit the castle at Medellín. This afternoon we return to Mérida to view the Visigothic basilica of Sta. Eulalia, and the nearby Roman circus. We also marvel at the Roman dam of La Proserpina.

Day 8

We visit the huge arches of the aqueduct known as Los Milagros, which once brought water from the dam to the city. We drive to Lisbon via the fortress of Elvas, before our return home today.

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels
  8. Flights

Hotel Info

1 night in a polished, modern hotel based in a converted castle in Palmela
2 nights in an upscale hotel, surrounded by gardens, in Évora’s historic centre
4 nights in a former 18th century convent in lively Merida

Useful Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

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2017 Tour Details

Sun 3rd September - Sun 10th September

Call for Availability

£2,250

ex. flights: £1,995

sgl supp: £290

SPA17B

Led By:

2018 Tour Details

Sun 15th April - Sun 22nd April

Available

£2,395

ex. flights: £2,175

sgl supp: £395

SPA18A

Led By: Professor Tony King

Sun 2nd September - Sun 9th September

Available

£2,395

ex. flights: £2,175

sgl supp: £395

SPA18B

Led By: Professor Tony King

Sun 7th October - Sun 14th October

Available

£2,395

ex. flights: £2,175

sgl supp: £395

SPA18C

Led By:

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