Tag Archives: roman

The Roman bridge of Campelos

(Originally published on January 12, 2015)

The Roman Bridge of Campelos over the Ave River is located northwest of Guimarães and connects the parishes of Vila Nova de Sande and Silvares in Guimarães and was part of the Roman road from Bracara Augusta towards Mérida ignoring Guimarães, since this city was only founded a long time later in the year 950 at the initiative of the Countess D. Mumadona Dias. Despite the successive repairs, the bridge’s structure still shows undoubted Roman characteristics with the typical perfect arched padded apparatus, presenting the typical robustness of the great works of that time; At least the northernmost arc does not look like reconstruction and allows to estimate its original configuration. The Roman road to Mérida certainly passed this crossing of the Ave and not upstream in the bridge of Caldas das Taipas, despite being “converted” into the “Camino de Santiago”; in fact there are clear references to this bridge in a document from the year 957 (PMH DC 71 ) and another from 1059
(PMH DC 420) as the “ponte petrina” (‘stone bridge’), showing that at that time the crossing was made on this bridge. After crossing the river, the road forked in 3 possible routes, the Roman Bridge of Negrelos towards Cale, the Roman Bridge of Arco de Vila Fria towards Tongobriga and the Roman Bridge of Vizela towards Meinedo and from here to the Douro river. The bridge was rehabilitated in 2015 to construct a pedestrian crossing, but its Roman origin remains ignored and so only few people notice that it is one of the best preserved Roman bridges in the entire Minho region and one of most important in Portugal. The bridge remains perfectly functional and still supports heavy road traffic from the industrial periphery of Guimarães, including heavy vehicles. Both the monument and the site deserve further attention. Coordinates: 41.462051, -8.345495
View in Google Street View

vide route here – http://viasromanas.pt/#braga_guimaraes

The Roman bridge of Segura by Duarte d´Armas

(Originally published on January 12, 2015)

In 1509, King Manuel I commissioned his squire Duarte d’Armas to survey the state of 56 border fortifications in the kingdom, a work that was to be completed in 1510 and which resulted in a manuscript known as the “Book of Fortresses” (“Livro das Fortalezas”). This work shows illustrations of the main castles that defended the integrity of the national territory. In the illustration referring to the Castle of Segura, Duarte d’Armas represented the old Roman bridge over the Erges river in detail showing the semi-destroyed central arch, clearly showing that the bridge was unusable in the 16th century. This arch was later repaired and still today we can see a larger central arch much bigger that the rest. It is the oldest known representation of this important Roman work (so forgotten in current tourist itineraries) and therefore a document of the utmost importance. Coordinates: 39.817403, -6.981816

Images from the book “Castelos Templários Raianos: Castelos de Portugal”. Templar Days of Penha Garcia, August 2013. Authoring and Coordination: Colonel Dr. António Pires Nunes.
Edition: Câmara Municipal de Idanha-a-Nova

Road building in Roman times

(Originally published on August 22, 2014)

In an article published in 2009 – “Costruire strade in epoca romana: tecniche e morphologie. Il caso dell´Italia settentrionale ”, Michele Matteazzi of the Department of Archaeology at the University of Padua reviews the constructive panorama of the Roman roads in northern Italy, presenting the various techniques and morphologies identified during the archaeological excavations carried out in the region during the last century. This excellent compilation highlights on the one hand the wide variety of constructive techniques used by Roman engineering to overcome difficulties and on the other hand rebounds the great misconception that has plagued virtually all Roman road studies to date: the assumption that all the Roman roads were paved with great slabs of stone; This misconception originated in 1622 when Nicolas Bergier published his seminal work L’Histoire des Grandes Chemins de l’Empire Romain, when he (wrongly) considered a passage from Vitruvius that spoke of paving housing structures as a reference to the technique of road construction, proposing for the roads a stratigraphic sequence that became canonical, composed of statumen, rudus and nucleus; its persistence to this day is also linked to the little attention given to Roman road technique until very recently, as the traces have always pointed in another direction, ie the use of various construction processes and a wide variety of materials (often obtained in the vicinity of the work) arranged in successive layers which allowed a simpler and faster construction without losing its road efficiency. Given the importance that the article may have in the study of the road network in Portugal, I decided (with the proper permission of the author to whom I thank) to make its translation available in Portuguese. The article can be read in the Italian or Portuguese version.

“Roman” road in Canelas, Gaia

(Originally published on June 20, 2014)

The Roman road XVI between Bracara Augusta and Olisipo crossed the current municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia passing by Santo Ovídio and Canelas; the only testimony we have of this road is a small section of the pavement discovered in the 1930s on «Senhora do Monte» Street during the works for enlargement of the national road EN1; there’s a picture published by Armando de Mattos in 1937 in his little book “As Estradas Romanas no Concelho de Gaia”. Since then, the road has been mutilated by repeated repairs to the national road and the construction of an urbanization that has destroyed a few hundred meters of the old road. What is left now are a few surviving slabs of the original pavement still in place on the side of the modern road. The deep furrows as a result of the wear and tear caused by cartwheels over the centuries, a sign of its antiquity. Coordinates:  41.088836, -8.591531
View location in Street View

“Roman” road in Ereira

(Originally published on February 25, 2014)

Next to the village of Ereira (Sever do Vouga) there is still a stretch of Roman cobblestone with about 100m belonging to the main road linking Talabriga (Cabeço do Vouga) to Vissaium (Viseu); The site is easily accessible from the road between Talhadas and Reigoso. Note the depth of the grooves narks left by the passing cartwheels attesting its antiquity; note also the rock cuts and the perfect fitting of the polygonal-shape stone slabs. Coordinates: 40.673164,  -8.297535

Roman road in «Ammaia»

(Originally published on November, 2012)

A stretch of the road in Carris. Vestiges of the pavement.

One of the Roman roads that departed from the Roman city of Ammaia (S. Salvador de Aramenha, Marvão) crossed the Roman Bridge of the Madalena and went uphill along this stretch of the road in a site called «Carris». This route continues for a few kilometres until it meets the modern road EN359, perhaps with continuation towards Évora through Portalegre. Coordinates: 39.354269,-7.401371

vide route here – http://viasromanas.pt/#ammaia_evora

Roman tech – Modern uses

(Originally published on October July 15, 2010)


Mapungubwe National Park Interpretive Centre, Peter Rich Architects, (2008), a) interior view, b) under construction (Photo: James Bellamy).  

The construction of the Mapungubwe National Park Interpretive Centre in South Africa was inspired by ancient Roman construction techniques such as the arched ceiling structure and the use of local materials for a new model of subtlety. The project, designed by John Ochsendorf, a professor of civil engineering and architecture at MIT, and built between 2007 and 2010, aims to demonstrate that it is possible to build modern buildings using inexpensive materials near the construction site (one of the rules). to minimize costs and reduce construction time), thereby significantly reducing energy consumption and pollution associated with construction projects. A time-lapse video about this building could be watched here.

Wine production with Roman vessels

(Originally published on January 5, 2010)

French cellar using Roman-style vessels

TIME magazine has just published an interesting article about the recent use of the Roman amphora model in the production of high quality wines. Once again the validity of Roman technology is recognized for achieving excellence while ensuring the sustainability of the solution both in terms of energy and the materials used. The recent massification of the use of stainless steel vats has created some problems in the quality of the wines obtained namely in the production of Port Wine, forcing the use of micro-oxygenation and others processes to improve the bouquet, body and other characteristics of wines. In contrast, the porosity of the Roman vessels provide a natural micro-oxygenation without energy consumption. Another important advantage is the oval shape of the vessels that allows the formation of a vortex during fermentation which are attenuated by the angles of the traditional vats; the vortex can rotate for weeks facilitating the natural lifting of the sludge.
Read original story here.

Roman Roads of Beja in 1938

(Originally published on May 21, 2007)

Mr. Manuel Geada kindly send me an interesting article from the newspaper “Diário do Alentejo” from 13th August 1938 with a brief description of the route linking Évora to Beja. The other route also mentioned linking Beja to the Algarve in fact doesn’t exist and is just a misinterpretation of Anthony’s Itinerary (Via XXI). See article here.

vide route here – http://viasromanas.pt/#evora_beja

Roman Bridge of Negrelos rehabilitated

(Originally published on April 13, 2007)

The Roman Bridge of Negrelos over the Vizela River, linking the villages of Moreira de Cónegos and São Martinho do Campo is one of most important Roman vestige of the region. Despite being classified as a National Monument the bridge was in a pre-ruin situation (see photo) before its recent rehabilitation. What we see now is the result of several reconstructions over the centuries but there are still many signs of the original Roman bridge, as the overall structure with several arches and a flat pavement. Many materials were also reuse, namely several cushioned ashlars with the typical hole attesting the use of machinery in its construction. This bridge integrated a secondary route linking Guimarães to Porto. Coordinates: 41.366525, -8.355018

vide route here – http://viasromanas.pt/#via_vimaranes