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Cerro da Vila: Museum & Ruins

Cerro da Vila: Museum & Ruins

Discover 5,000 years of history in Vilamoura

Cerro da Vila represents the building of a sumptuous village by merchants at the time of the Roman Empire.

We would say that history is nothing more than a repetitive cycle of facts and events. This maxim is confirmed in Vilamoura which, for decades on end, has become a popular resort for those who come looking for the Algarve sun. In the past, it was also a sought after place, but not exactly for tourist reasons and in Vilamoura there are traces of one of the most extraordinary vilae in the country.

This place is known as Cerro, which in ancient Portuguese means heap of stones, which suits the name well because it was here that a busy farmer on his land found his plough tied up in a mound of semi-buried stones in the soil. He raised a slab and to his surprise, found mosaics, which led the engineer and archaeologist José Farrajota to visit the place in 1963.

After negotiations with the farmer, an archaeological station was built in order to carry out excavations, which led to the conclusion that it was a Roman villa. The site was also home to other associated facilities which had become dilapidated over time but were still filled with important vestiges of the community that lived there.

Works continued over the next couple of decades and over this time artefacts and numerous traces of the Roman settlement in the region were collected. It was during this time that it was realised that in addition to the villa, the structure of the complex included: public spas, private spas, fish salting tanks, a necropolis, gardens, watchtowers, a temple and several smaller houses, as well as warehouses, the bases of a port structure and a funerary tower. Around it, of course, a small population emerged.

Years later, the space was occupied by the Arabs, who gave it Islamic characteristics and so it is far from strange that the Roman villa has become a village… Moura (Moor) where we can find Vilamoura.
The site, which also includes a museum that shows artefacts spreading a period of 5,000 years, is now open and can be visited Monday to Friday.

“The material recovered from the excavations is abundant and very significant. Its discovery has made an important contribution to Portuguese history in general and to the history of the Algarve in particular.”

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