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Discover the Iron Age in Citânia de Briteiros

Discover the Iron Age in Citânia de Briteiros

Discover the Iron Age in Citânia de Briteiros

Yes indeed, the rain comes down heavily now and then. So when we have a nice, dry day, we take our chances. Out and about! Into the car and in search of a destination that has been on our - actually, my - list for some time: the Citânia de Briteiros National Monument. This destination is marked along the autostrada on large brown-coloured signs, as an important place to visit. All, places listed on these brown signs are, so don't ignore them! We invariably set the navigation to shortest way, not fastest, because then we pass other nice villages and places, and there are many of them in the beautiful green North. The route is not very far for us, but pleasantly we glide along the winding, sometimes narrow roads. The shortcuts, so watch out for crossing senior citizens and animals. Not to be distracted by the beautiful rolling vineyards of the delicious grapes for Vinho Verde. Not to be distracted by the sometimes breathtaking views over the valleys. Not to be distracted by the showy changes in the landscape whenever we rise or fall even slightly in altitude. After about 30 minutes, we drive from Barreiros to Briteiros, our destination. But what is it really, what are we going to see? I tell.

National Monument Citânia de Briteiros is an excavation of a fortified city, dated by archaeologists to the Bronze Age. Call it a ruin. Its heyday was in the second or first century before the beginning of our era. The walls surrounding the village had the function of defence and display of power. Parts of the defensive walls are still present.

The inhabitants were farmers: they collected fruit and vegetables, ground flour and baked bread. They also had small livestock and caught fish in the Ave, the river that flows here. The village had designated parts of its garden for livestock and arable farming. People lived and worked in or around the round enclosures. Walls between the plots ensured that everything remained within the gardens. The shapes of the enclosures are still clearly recognisable. Moreover, the archaeological department has rebuilt two of the round houses, and this gives a good picture. But even without these rebuilt buildings, it is well worth a visit. The vistas are charming and surprising. The roads impressive. The structure of the map particularly recognisable.

Interestingly, the village had and has a paved path, although .... Leave high heels at home, and walking sticks won't save you without them. Trouble walking? Skip this outing. Located atop a hill, the excavation covers several football pitches, but it is not flat! We were definitely wearing the wrong shoes and as a result, it took real care to avoid rolling down that hill. If it was raining, we would not have started it, as a slide is obvious. But what we saw while going up and down the excavation was impressive.

At the information desk, after paying the entrance fee, you get a map with interpretation. Behind the entrance building is a restaurant with a terrace overlooking the valley. For real enthusiasts, there is another descent to the Roman baths at the bottom of the valley. We saved that one, for another visit, as it is well worth a visit. Adventurous Portugal! The sweat was on my back.

You can find the Citânia de Briteiros on national road 309, at kilometre 55 near Briteiros S. Salvador, municipality of Guimerães.

This blog previously appeared in an adapted version on

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Published 02-02-2021 / Copyright © Villa Branca Barreiros Bed & Breakfast AL/98139