There are many traces, among the modest houses, of the ancient Roman city, Civitas Igaeditanorum. A temple atop the forum, some houses with patios and even a large public thermal baths structure were identified in this meandering layout, carved out by the Pônsul River. By the end of the Empire, the walled city was undergoing a transformation, and it adopted a new religion, preserving from that remote period two baptismal fonts (pools in which baptisms were carried out). Between them, the Cathedral (Santa Maria Church) is the magnificent summation of the intense history of this city, today a Historical Village
Our history your time
Nestled between the Pônsul River and three gentle hills, we find the modest Idanha-a-Velha. Underneath its humble urban fabric lie the ruins of a city with a vast history. Founded by the Romans at the end of the 1st century BC, it was called Oppidum Stipendiarium in the time of Augustus, becoming Civitas Igaeditanorum between 69 and 96 AD (reign of the Flávios), at which time it was promoted to a municipium. The current village offers a glimpse, here and there, of the remains of this Roman city. The temple podium has been preserved in the forum, the monumental centre of the civitas. It is thought to have been consecrated to imperial worship. It sat on a platform supported by a cryptoporticus, of which important vestiges have been preserved. And it is over the ancient temple that, in medieval times, the Templar tower would be built. Some houses of the city have been identified, consisting of a central courtyard, and their memory was left drawn on the pavement next to the North Gate. Under the old Tourism Office, and next to the old Cathedral (Santa Maria Church) the outlines of other domus appear. At one of them, located under the Epigraphic Archive, the peristylum (central courtyard) decorated with frescoes, can be visited today. The remains of a public spa and the bridge over the Pônsul are visible outside the ancient walls (3rd/4th century AD). It is this wall, built with columns, epigraphs and friezes of the imperial city that we can visit today. It had circular towers and at least two gates, north and south, the latter recently rediscovered. Shortly after the construction of this wall, the city and its territory were integrated into the Suebi kingdom. In the mid-6th century, the diocese of Egitânia was established, the name by which the city came to be known. In 585, with the end of the Suebi kingdom, the Visigothic kingdom begins, maintaining some of the city’s vitality. In 715, Egitânia was taken by the Muslims, but it is not clear whether they lingered here. But its key position, between the Christian and Muslim world, gave it a strategic importance that the Roman road from Mérida to Braga reinforced. Knowing early on the military rigors of the Reconquista (“Reconquest”), its definitive possession took place during the reign of King Sancho II, who granted it a charter in 1229. Shortly thereafter, it was donated to the Templars who would maintain guardianship over it, a measure intended to maintain the organisation and settlement of this territory. The Templars were succeeded by the Order of Christ, to whom it belonged until the Order's extinction in 1834. During the time of the Templars, the strengthening of the border with Castile to the east cut off the old Roman road, which had given strategic importance to the site since antiquity. The city was hopelessly isolated and situated in the interior of the new territory which made up the Portuguese kingdom. Settlement failures followed, leading to the city wasting away. D. Manuel gave it a new charter in 1510, symbolically represented through its pillory, wherein it was already designated as Idanha. In 1762, it still held village status and was integrated in the region of Castelo Branco. In 1821, it became the seat of a small municipality, extinct in 1836, transitioning definitively into the municipality of Idanha-a-Nova. Still in the 19th century, individual appropriation of Comenda lands took place and some estates were formed, the largest being that of the Marrocos family, which totally encompassed the people and houses of the small village. The isolation the village experienced resulted in the preservation of its main points of interest, having been integrated in the restricted group of Historical Villages, together with the village of Monsanto. Its integration into the AHP (Aldeias Históricas de Portugal–Historical Villages of Portugal) network promoted its requalification and valorisation. The interventions were based on the heritage built over several periods, crossing contemporary architectural language in clear, and deliberate, contrast with the surviving ancient vestiges, making it another point of interest for those visiting the village. A Historical Village carefully adapted for those who live here and for those who visit it.
What to see
The Roman epigraphic collection of Idanha-a-Velha constitutes one of the largest, and most representative, national sets of Roman epigraphy, collected at different stages of the archaeological exploration of the Village. The Epigraphic Archive, located in the garden of the old oil press, in the south-western part of the village, was created to selectively display this collection, which had previously been on exhibit in the Cathedral. The new museum project for this space enabled the study and publication of this important epigraphic collection. 86 pieces are on display, out of a total of 210, blending traditional exhibition techniques with multimedia technology. Resulting from the care given to the scientific rigour of its study, it was understood that the epigraphic contents must be made available to a wider audience. Thus, an interactive path as designed, where technology serves the purpose of contextualising and interpreting the exhibits. This project encourages the use and enhancement of endogenous heritage resources through scientific research, the preservation of archaeological heritage and the application of new technologies, to respond to the requests for a qualified tourism for the site.
There are two baptismal fonts identified in old Egitanea, the name by which the Visigoth city was known. One of them is located next to the North façade of the Cathedral. The date of its construction is unknown, but materials from the Roman imperial city were reused for its construction. It was abandoned during the late 4th century, early 5th century. It is a rectangular pool, with access steps on the shorter sides, covered with opus signinum (waterproofing mortar) with a marble bottom. The second baptismal font was built at the beginning of the 5th century, also reusing marble slabs from the imperial city. It has a cruciform shape and has preserved, until recently, traces of its original painting. Both are liturgically close and functionally identical: a small pool with steps, into which the catechumens entered, on the west side, receiving the triple infusion – symbolising the purification rite of immersion – and exiting on the opposite side. In the southern baptismal font, the priests would occupy the lobed spaces on the sides. The archaeological investigation has not yet contextualised these two baptismal fonts, which are the oldest of their kind in our region, being widely thought that they were part of structures built prior to the Cathedral (Santa Maria Church).
Holy Spirit Chapel
This shrine occupies a prominent place in the homonymous square, with a contemporary reorganisation, but designed according to the previous traditional configuration. The local festivities take place here, mainly the annual feast of the parish's patroness: Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The chapel has a single nave and chancel. On the façade, a scallop and a dove atop a cup sit above the portal. Inside, a pointed triumphal arch attests to its medieval origins. However, the current layout dates to the 17th century. The seated image of the patron saint and a pulpit are noteworthy details of the chapel’s interior, in line with its 17th century renovation. Below, a depiction of a bullring attests to local bullfighting traditions, which consisted of bullfighting with a broad pole.
Great House (Manor house of the Marrocos Family)
The House is a 20th century structure built by a prominent family of local landowners. The project was based on the expansion of a previous house which conditioned the new designs. Its style is eclectic, but in line with the “soft Portuguese” style and was designed by an unknown architect. It is especially noteworthy for the refinement of its construction, particularly in its artistic stonework. The work was suspended in the 50s, leaving the interiors unfinished. The house is part of a vast enclosed space, which includes an area for agricultural exploration. A third area includes facilities for pets. The Great House, although seemingly isolated, is surrounded by other agricultural and livestock facilities, being the centre of exploration of the family farm, whose extensive fields surrounded Idanha-a-Velha.
Where to eat
Casa da Velha Fonte
What to do
Porta Raiana dedicates itself to cultural touring activities in the territory of Idanha-a-Nova. Develops visits and experiences in Monsanto, Idanha-a-Velha; Proença a Velha and Idanha a Nova We are committed to create moments and experiences so that this treasure can be shared, so that those who visit us, or are here can connect to this historic, ethnographic, gastronomic and natural treasure. We are committed to keep and protect this living heritage to bring together past and present and, through our Educational Service, call upon young people to build the future of this treasure. We are an agent of promotion of the region, an ambassador of Idanha-a-Nova; we connect the local community and visitors, individuals and institutions to local values being faithful to the cultural offer of the region. We offer a connection with the culture of Idanha-a-Nova. Open to the past, present and future of this region, We are Porta Raiana.
TRY PORTUGAL – Adventure, Nature & Culture
TRY PORTUGAL promotes personalized programs and experiences of active and cultural tourism, exploring the Natural, Historical and Cultural heritage of the country. All programs in autonomy or with guides are created to guarantee experiences of gastronomy & wines, culture & traditions. We highlight the interior regions that are still unknown to most travelers, through thematic vacation programs, the provision of tourist services, and the organization of sports & cultural events. Services: Thematic tours, active tourism programs, guided tours, organization of cultural and sporting events. Our tours are designed to include one or more of the following activities that are available in the region: Walking & Hiking - Mountain & Road Cycling - Water trails activities - Air activities- Horseback Riding – Rock Climbing – Wellness & Yoga Retreats - Ecotourism - Geo-tourism - Cultural & Historical Tourism - Creative Residences - Impact Tourism & Volunteering COME TRY PORTUGAL!
Adventure and nature trips
We are a registered tour operating company and we base our activity on the values of legal compliance, nature protection and sustainability. We operate according to the Portuguese legislation and we hold a special accreditation from the Institute of Nature Conservation and Forests allowing us to drive inside Nature Parks and other protected areas (where permitted)- We are members of the Natural.pt brand (www.natural.pt), reserved for companies who adhere to the programme. Following the recent pandemic we got our Clean & Safe seal from the Tourism Authority signifying our compliance with the official health requirements for the prevention and control of infections. Our trips are much more than just going from A to B and we distinguish ourselves for having a higher purpose: the knowledge and promotion of the historical, cultural and environmental heritage of Portugal, so that in the end our guests will have lots of stories to tell. In each new journey through some of the most beautiful and remotest places in mainland Portugal, we discover a unique, authentic and truly surprising country with a sense of adventure and discovery that enriches us as human beings. Our offer is based on a personalised service with tailor-made trips meeting the personal interests of our guests. We are constantly exploring and spending countless days on the ground in contact with the local people and organisations in search for the best places of interest and the best routes. As a result of this research, we have acquired a deep knowledge of the whole country which allows us to give our guests a renewed level of novelty and differentiation in each event. During our events we privilege the contact with nature in a legal and responsible manner, with the aim to reduce the impact of our passage, by working with official entities and other environmental organisations. Every year we plant many autoctonous trees in an effort to make Dream Overland a carbon-neutral company, an action that our customers can support and partake in. With our trips we contribute to the social cohesion and economic sustainability of local communities, through the knowledge and promotion of their traditions, handicrafts, produce and local heritage.
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Portugal A2Z Walking & Biking
Powered since 2006 by your passion for travel, Portugal A2Z Walking & Biking was created to offer you authentic experiences and unforgettable memories in the most exclusive places in Portugal, taking you to the most historic places and wild landscapes. The perfect example of this is our holidays in the Historical Villages. Each one more surprising than the one before, prepare to cross mesmerizing landscapes, going through some of the most impressive Portuguese natural regions like the Côa Valley, with their cave paintings, the Estrela Mountain Range, with the highest peak in continental Portugal, or Faia Brava, the first private conservation area in Portugal. And at the end of each day, explore another village, each with a different story to discover, between castles and walls, between taverns and gourmet restaurants, between centuries-old traditions and the latest inspirations. Dare yourself to wear the shoes of the great conquerors who fought for the oldest European border while restoring your body and mind with pure air and breathtaking views.