About Carranque Archaeological Park
Carranque Archaeological Park (Parque Arqueologico de Carranque) contains a series of Ancient Roman ruins built in the 4th century AD. The site is believed to have a connection with Emperor Theodosius I the Great.
Carranque Archaeological Park is mainly comprised of a well preserved villa – known as the Materno Villa – as well as a nymphaeum (temple) and a basilica. There is also a small ancient burial ground.
A good place to either start or end your trip is at the visitor centre, which contains some of the objects found at the Carranque Archaeological Park as well as models of how it would once have looked.
History of Carranque Archaeological Park
Carranque is a town in the Toledo province of Castile-La Mancha, in Spain. It is home to Carranque Archaeological Park, which consists of a collection of high-quality Roman buildings and mosaics, which are thought to come from the Villa of Maternus Cinigius.
The buildings date from the fourth century, and, having been buried for centuries, were re-discovered by a local farmer in 1983 when he was ploughing a field and saw a flash of mosaic.
There are three main buildings visible with above-ground remains, as well as a Roman mill and a visitor’s centre.
The first, and arguably most impressive, is the Theodosian-era Basilica, which would have been surrounded by 32 monolithic marble columns from the Emperor’s private quarries. It was later converted for use in Christian cult and burials.
The Visigothic arrival brought some further changes, and was also used during the Islamic age. The Knights Templar used it as a monastery or abbey.
There are a number of mosaics on display in the Meeting Room, Dining Hall, and Sleeping room of Maternus.
Carranque Archaeological Park Today
Today, visitors can walk around the ruins to learn about some of Spain’s most exciting and changeable history. The remains of three main buildings are accessible to visitors. These include the Palatial building with two of its 32 monolithic marble columns still standing, the Mausoleum, which would have housed the remains of the owner of the Roman Villa, and the Villa of Maternus, which includes mosaics, and the remains of luxurious facilities such as under-floor heating, running water, and facilities for the production of oil and wine.
There is also a visitors centre with model reconstructions which provides additional information. Inside, there are many coins, pieces of furniture, ceramics, receptacles, engravings, utensils, tools, and decorative items on display.
Getting to Carranque Archaeological Park
The park can be reached in under an hour from Madrid and Toledo. From Madrid, follow the R-5 and AP-41 for around 40 minutes. From Toledo, take the AP-41 road for around the same amount of time.