Roman Villa of São Cucufate, Discover the Secrets »
Ruins of the Roman Villa of São Cucufate; Credit Carole Raddato, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Roman Villa of São Cucufate, Discover the Secrets

The ruins of the Roman Villa of São Cucufate are one of the most important remains of Roman civilization in Portugal. Located in the village of Vila de Frades, in the municipality of Vidigueira, these ruins reveal the history of an agricultural and residential complex that dates back to the XNUMXst century AD and was inhabited until the XNUMXth century.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

In this article we will explore what was found in archaeological excavations and how the people who occupied this place lived over the centuries.

We will also discover why it is called São Cucufate and how you can visit this national monument.

What was found in the ruins of the Roman Villa of São Cucufate

The Roman ruins of São Cucufate correspond to a Roman “villa”, that is, a large rural property that was used for agricultural exploration and for the residence of its owner.

The “villa” was made up of two main parts:

  • the “pars rustica”, where productive structures such as warehouses, mills, brickyards and accommodation for workers were located;
  • the “urban pars”, where the manor house with living rooms, bedrooms, baths and a temple was located.

The “villa” of São Cucufate is considered the largest in Portugal and a unique example in the country, due to its unique architecture with the typology of an “áulica villa”, a manor house that stands out for its verticality and monumentality.

Text indicating ADVERTISING

Unlike typical Roman “villas”, which were organized around interior courtyards (peristyles), this “villa” has a vertical layout, with two floors.

The ground floor was occupied by the “pars rustica” and the first floor by the “parsurban”, which had large balconies along the facades.

Access to the first floor was via a narrow and steep staircase.

The “villa” had three construction phases: the first in the XNUMXst century AD, when it was founded; the second from the XNUMXrd century AD, when it was expanded and remodeled; and the third from the XNUMXth century AD, when it was decorated with mosaics and wall paintings.

Roman Villa of São Cucufate, Vidigueira, Portugal; Credit: Reconstruction based on G. Charpentier, with permission from artist César Figueiredo via ResearchGate
Roman Villa of São Cucufate, Credit: Reconstruction based on G. Charpentier, with permission from the artist César Figueiredo via ResearchGate

Collaborate with us.

See the ad.

Advertising Break

Pássaro no Ombro

The Roman occupation of the site lasted until the XNUMXth-XNUMXth centuries AD, when the Roman Empire began to decline and was invaded by barbarian peoples. Still, this place was abandoned, but continued to be inhabited during the Visigothic and Islamic times.

The ancient Roman temple was transformed into a Paleo-Christian basilica and, later, into two churches dedicated to Saint Cucufate, a holy martyr from the XNUMXrd century.

The first church was built between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, during the Muslim occupation, and the second church was built in the XNUMXth century, after the Christian reconquest.

The second church was in operation until the XNUMXth century and still retains some Roman architectural elements.

Text indicating ADVERTISING

How people lived in Roman times

The people who lived in the “villa” of São Cucufate belonged to two distinct social classes: the owner of the “villa” and his family, who were Roman citizens with political and legal rights; and the “villa” workers, who were servants or slaves without any rights or freedom.

The owner of the “villa” was a rich and powerful man, who was dedicated to managing his property and businesses related to agricultural production.

Its main source of income was wine, which was produced in the “villa” mills and exported to other regions of the empire.

The owner was also interested in Roman culture and religion, as can be seen from the temple dedicated to an unknown deity that existed in his house.

Roman Villa of São Cucufate, Frescoes of S. Francisco de Assis S. Bento; Credit: Bextrel, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Roman Villa of São Cucufate, Frescoes of S. Francisco de Assis and S. Bento; Credit: Bextrel, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The “villa” workers were responsible for all agricultural and domestic tasks.

They cultivated cereals, fruits, vegetables and olive trees, took care of the animals, made pottery, stored the products and served the owner and his guests.

They lived in precarious conditions, in small houses next to the “pars rustica” or in the warehouses themselves.

Being servants or slaves, they did not have access to the “villa’s” spa or temple.

Why is it called Saint Cucufate?

The name of Saint Cucufate comes from a Christian saint who preached Christianity in Catalonia in the XNUMXrd century AD and where he was martyred and is believed to have been executed in the current Sant Cugat del Vallès in the Barcelona region of Catalonia.

According to tradition, his body was brought to Portugal by two monks named Paulo and Secundino, who buried him in a cave near the Roman “villa”.

In the XNUMXth century AD, with the end of the Roman Empire and the barbarian invasions of the Iberian Peninsula, the “villa” was abandoned by its owners and occupied by a Christian community.

The ancient Roman temple was transformed into a paleo-Christian basilica, where the body of Saint Cucufate was venerated.

In the following centuries, the “villa” was occupied by two Christian monasteries dedicated to Saint Cucufate, founded at different times and with churches built in different locations within the ruins.

Frescoes from São Cucufate; Credit: Guy MOLL, Faro, Portugal, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Frescoes from São Cucufate; Credit: Guy MOLL, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How to visit the Roman ruins of São Cucufate

The Roman ruins of São Cucufate are open to the public every day.

The entrance fee includes a guided tour of the archaeological site and the museum center, where you can see objects found during excavations, such as ceramics, coins, mosaics and paintings.

The Roman ruins of São Cucufate were classified as a National Monument in 1947 and are a fascinating place for those who enjoy History and Archeology.

Here you can travel back in time and learn about the way of life of those who inhabited this place over the centuries.

At the end, you can also take the opportunity to enjoy the Alentejo landscape and the local cuisine, which includes the famous Vidigueira wine.

See also other features

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

As you found this post useful ...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Leave a Comment

Your email address Will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment is processed.

Privacy Policy          Terms and Conditions

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR

NEWSLETTER

The elite club!

Receive news in your email

WELCOME,

Enjoy luxury, exclusivity and discretion

NOW TREAT YOURSELF!

Get 25% Off & Free Shipping On Your First Order. Enter Code WELL25SPE

Already leaving?

Don't miss the news

Logo PO 100 x 100 png Pop Ups
Scroll to Top