Mirobriga was once a thriving Roman town, the ruins of which can now be seen in Portugal.
Believed to date back to the first century AD, the remains of Mirobriga are quite extensive and well preserved, and include a forum and the country’s only surviving Hippodrome, which was once the site of fierce chariot races.
Just some of the things to see at Mirobriga are its sewerage system, impressive bath complexes, and Roman bridge. There’s also a small visitor centre.
History of Mirobriga
Mirobriga is an ancient Roman town located near the village of Santiago de Cacem, in south-west Portugal.
Archaeology has revealed that the town first occupied the site of an ancient Iron Age settlement that has existed since 9 BC, with its defensive walls being built between the 4th – 3rd century BC.
By the second half of the 1st century, Roman occupation began, which expanded the site to an area of 28,000 metres squared. At this time, the thermal baths and paved road along the southeast were constructed, which reflects Flavian economic prosperity.
By the second half of the 2nd century, there are signs that the town was abandoned; this may be because of a turbulent political crisis caused by barbarian invasions during this period. This is reflected in a marked reduction in population by the end of the 4th century.
Mirobriga’s ruins were rediscovered and referenced by Andre de Resende in the 16th century, but were only fully studied two centuries later. It was later recognised that the ruins needed to be protected and documented, with an Interpretative Centre opening in 2000.
Today, visitors can enjoy seeing the numerous sites that make up the ruins. The baths, which were likely built first half of the second century, are made up of the ruins of a massage hall, gymnasium, changing room, bathing space, cold and warm baths, and a communal latrine.
There’s also a small, single-arch bridge which leads to the forum, where two temples – one Imperial, and one dedicated to Venus – remain. Near here are ruins of the market and other houses.
The Hippodrome, which was built during the second century and was used for horse and chariot racing, is a particularly famous site.
There is also a small exhibition area in the reception building with a good selection of artefacts from the site.
Getting to Mirobriga
From Lisbon, the ruins take an hour and 40 minutes by car via the A2. From within Santiago de Cacem itself, the ruins are reachable in under 20 minutes by foot via R. Machado dos Santos. By car, it’s a quick 5 minute drive via the N120 road.