Spain & Portugal | Roman Lusitania

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)
‘Los Milagros’ - ‘miraculous’ aqueduct at Mérida
‘Los Milagros’ - ‘miraculous’ aqueduct at Mérida
The Acueducto de los Milagros
The Acueducto de los Milagros
Badajoz
Badajoz
Remains of Sao Cucufate Roman Villa
Remains of Sao Cucufate Roman Villa
Remains of Sao Cucufate Roman Villa
Remains of Sao Cucufate Roman Villa
Anta Grande do Zambujeiro
Anta Grande do Zambujeiro
Os Almendres
Os Almendres
Os Almendres
Os Almendres
Castle of Medellín
Castle of Medellín
Temple of Diana
Temple of Diana
View over the countryside from Medellín
View over the countryside from Medellín
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

The Iberian peninsula, known by Romans as Hspania was one of the wealthiest parts of the ancient Mediterranean. Evidence of that wealth, including its rich fisheries, silver mines and agriculture, are particularly evident in Lusitania, modern Portugal and Western Spain. 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. The countryside too was dotted with villas, dams and industrial sites, including the huge fish sauce production at Trofa.

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.

  • Enjoy a private tour of the Archaeological Crypt in Alcácer do Sal
  • Wander the city of Mérida and see the Roman aqueduct, Los Milagros
  • View intricate mosaics and well-preserved frescoes
  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cáceres

Themes

  • Romans
  • Prehistory
  • Medieval
  • Historic Churches

Practicalities

  • Special Access
  • All Inclusive

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

We fly from London to Lisbon and transfer to our hotel.
Hotel: Pousada do Alcácer
Meals: Dinner included

Day 2

Our day begins at the Cripta Arqueologica do Castelo de Alcácer do Sal and after this visit, we drive on to Troía. The site here was formerly the largest garum production centre in the Roman World, boasting some 52 factories. After lunch, we visit the largest prehistoric burial chamber in the Iberian peninsula, Anta Grande do Zambujeiro. The last stop of the day will be at the megalithic complex of Os Almendres. Dating from 5000 to 4000 BC, it is the largest collection of menhirs in the Iberian peninsula. We end the day in Arraiolos.
Hotel: Pousada Convento de Arraiolos
Meals: All meals included

Day 3

The first visit today will be to the Chapel of Bones in Évora, a macabre 16th century chapel decorated with skulls and bones, exhumed from local cemeteries. We continue on to the Escoural Cave to view its Paleolithic art. After lunch, we visit the museum at Villa de Frades. Before we head back to our hotel, we explore the Roman Villa at São Cucufate.
Hotel: Pousada Convento de Arraiolos
Meals: All meals included

Day 4

We travel to the town of Badajoz, situated near the Portuguese border to visit the Provincial Archaeological Museum. In the afternoon, we drive to Mérida and admire the ruins of the Aqueduct de Los Milagros, constructed in the 1st century AD to supply the Roman colony of Emerita Augusta with water. The small section which survives consists of 38 vaults standing 25m high and it is truly spectacular. There will be an optional walk to the Roman bridge before returning to our hotel.
Hotel: Parador de Mérida, Mérida
Meals: All meals included

Day 5

We start our day on foot by walking to the 11th century Muslim fortification, the Alcazaba, the best preserved citadel of its kind. Next, we drive to Casa del Mitreo to view its mosaics and well-preserved frescoes. After lunch we make our way to the National Museum of Roman Art, home to artefacts that were excavated from the nearby theatre and amphitheatre.
Hotel: Parador de Mérida, Mérida
Meals: All meals included

Day 6

This morning we start at the Cornalvo Dam, where we explore its Roman foundations, dating to the 1st or 2nd century AD. Afterwards, we drive to Medellin and explore both the church and Roman theatre, before visiting Medellin Castle. This afternoon we explore the Roman Circus back in Mérida and the Basilica de Santa Eulalia.
Hotel: Parador de Mérida, Mérida
Meals: All meals included

Day 7

After breakfast, we have a tour of the to Cáceres Museum to pore over its artefacts before having a special tour of the town. After lunch we visit the Basilica of Santa Lucia del Trampal, the only extant visigothic church in the Iberian peninsula. This afternoon, we have a guided tour of the town with our expert guide before returning to our hotel for a farewell dinner.
Hotel: Parador de Mérida, Mérida
Meals: All meals included

Day 8

On our final morning, we visit the Amoreira Aqueduct in Elvas before transferring to the airport for our return flight to London.
Meals: Breakfast & lunch included

Itinerary 2020

Day 1

We fly from London to Lisbon and transfer to our hotel.

Hotel: Alcácer do Sal
Meals: Dinner included

Day 2

Our day begins at the Cripta Arqueologica do Castelo de Alcácer do Sal and after this visit, we drive on to Troía. The site here was formerly the largest garum production centre in the Roman World, boasting some 52 factories. After lunch, we visit the largest prehistoric burial chamber in the Iberian peninsula, Anta Grande do Zambujeiro. The last stop of the day will be at the megalithic complex of Os Almendres. Dating from 5000 to 4000 BC, it is the largest collection of menhirs in the Iberian peninsula.

Hotel: Evora
Meals: All meals included

Day 3

This day we travel to the Escoural Cave, famed for its Paleolithic art and its funerary remains. After lunch, we visit the museum at Vila de Frades. Before we head back to our hotel, we explore the Roman Villa at São Cucufate, a large Roman villa rustica or farm later reused as a monastery in the mediaeval period.

Hotel: Evora
Meals: All meals included

Day 4

We travel to the town of Badajoz, situated near the Portuguese border to visit the Provincial Archaeological Museum. In the afternoon, we drive to Mérida and admire the ruins of the Aqueduct de Los Milagros, constructed in the 1st century AD to supply the Roman colony of Emerita Augusta with water. The small section which survives consists of 38 vaults standing 25m high and it is truly spectacular. There will be an optional walk to the Roman bridge before returning to our hotel.

Hotel: Mérida
Meals: All meals included

Day 5

We start our day on foot by walking to the 11th century Muslim fortification, the Alcazaba, the best preserved citadel of its kind. Next, we drive to Casa del Mitreo to view its mosaics and well-preserved frescoes. After lunch we make our way to the National Museum of Roman Art, home to artefacts that were excavated from the nearby theatre and amphitheatre.

Hotel: Mérida
Meals: All meals included

Day 6

This morning we start at the Cornalvo Dam, where we explore its Roman foundations, dating to the 1st or 2nd century AD. Afterwards, we drive to Medellin and explore both the church and Roman theatre, before visiting Medellin Castle. This afternoon we explore the Roman Circus back in Mérida and the Basilica de Santa Eulalia.

Hotel: Mérida
Meals: All meals included

Day 7

After breakfast, we visit the Basilica of Santa Lucia del Trampal, the only extant Visigothic church in the Iberian peninsula. We continue with a tour of the Cáceres Museum to pore over its artefacts before having a special tour of the town. After lunch, we have a guided tour of the town with our expert guide before returning to our hotel for a farewell dinner.

Hotel: Mérida
Meals: All meals included

Day 8

On our final morning, we visit the Amoreira Aqueduct in Elvas before transferring to the airport for our return flight to London.

Meals: Breakfast & lunch included

What's Included

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

Travel Information

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2019 Tour Details

Sun 1st September - Sun 8th September

Call for availability

Guaranteed Departure

£2,195

inc.

sgl supp: £395

SPA19B

Led By: Dr Andrew Souter

2020 Tour Details

Sun 19th April - Sun 26th April

Available

£2,495

inc.

sgl supp: £550

SPA20A

Led By: Dr Andrew Souter

Sun 13th September - Sun 20th September

Available

£2,495

inc.

sgl supp: £550

SPA20B

Led By: Dr Andrew Souter

Guide Lecturer

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