Coimbra - Museu Machado Castro

Hall/Court - Chalcolithic (Copper Age), Iron Age, Roman Period, Medieval Islamic Period, Middle Ages e Modern Age (17840)
The Machado de Castro National Museum is located atop a slope, in Coimbra's high area. The building was built in an artificial platform, located between the Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral, created with the building of a cryptoporticus that regulated the western slopes (Coimbra - Criptopórtico de Aeminium CNS 2041). According to the artefacts found in this area, it seems that the place occupation started in prehistoric times. A part of the materials (namely ceramics), attributed to the Iron Age and found in secondary contexts (earth layers connected to roman, medieval and modern periods), as well as the presence of structures (like a circulation level and an associated hearth), are evidences of this area's occupation before the 1st century AD. Two important construction stages have been identified during the Roman period: the oldest dating from the Augustus principate (early 1st century AD) which materialized in the construction of the forum and cryptoporticus; and a second stage, during the Claudius principate (mid-1st century AD), related to the structures' refurbishing: the cryptoporticus is expanded and the Augustus forum was demolished to be replaced by a new one. Traces of the Claudian forum square were also identified, along with a balcony that delimited the western façade (which coincides with the current loggia) and the basilica. The Cloaca Máxima was also identified (a 10m section) along with its branches, as well as a building with a porticus (flanking the Decumanus) and a monumental fountain located in the western side of the cryptoporticus, fed by a spring that flourished in the slope's underground and channelled through a dome gallery. The area was progressively abandoned on the 5th/ 6th century and the occupations that occurred until the 11th century are barely known. However the existence of landfills, containing materials dated from the 9th /10th century and possibly a barn (located in the south wing of the museum) confirm the Islamic presence. The excavation that took place in the south wing of the museum allowed to identify a deposit with several materials associated with the Episcopal Palace, revealing four distinct moments, between the 15th and 16th century. From the several renovations taken place in the building along the ages, there is a special notice to the one occurring during the late 16th century, with the construction of a loggia, adopting a model similar to the original Roman style. Some changes were made until the late 19th century, although it didn't stop the degradation of the space. Finally, in 1912 it was decided that the space would accommodate a museum.


Visit conditions

Entrance with admission ticket


Opening hours: Tuesdays 14.00 - 18.00 Wednesdays to Sundays 10.00 - 18.00 (Closed: Monday, January 1st, Easter (Sunday), May 1st, July 4th, December 24th and 25th)



    How to get there? Best practices

    Best practices

    Good practices when visiting archaeological sites

    To visit an archaeological site is to connect with our origins, to understand our path and evolution as a species integrated in the environment, and to respect and safeguard our heritage so that future generations can also visit and enjoy it.

    Walking the paths and enjoying the structures and archaeological pieces that survived over time, fosters the understanding of what is different, but also of what is common among different populations: basically, what identifies us as Homo Sapiens.

    More than just vestiges and ruins of the past, archaeological sites showcase our capacity for creative thought, adaptation, interconnection, comprehension and resilience. Without these traits we would not have been successful as cultural beings participating in an ongoing evolutionary process. These sites also allow to consider choices made in the past thus contributing for decisions in the present to be made with greater awareness and knowledge.

    Archaeological sites are unique and irreplaceable. These sites are fragile resources vulnerable to changes driven by human development. The information they keep, if destroyed, can never be recovered again.

    As such, the Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage (DGPC) invites all visitors to enjoy the beauty and authenticity of these sites, while helping to preserve them for future generations by adopting the following set of good practices:

    • Respect all signs; 
    • Do not try to access fenced areas; 
    • Do not climb, sit or walk on archaeological structures and remains; 
    • Respect areas where archaeological excavations are being carried out, not disturbing them; 
    • Do not collect materials or sediments;
    • Do not write or make graffiti on archaeological structures; 
    • Put the garbage in appropriate containers. If none exist, take the garbage with you until you find a suitable container; 
    • Leave the archaeological site as you found it; 
    • Do not drive bicycles or motor vehicles over archaeological sites; 
    • Respect and protect the plants and animals that live in the areas surrounding archaeological sites;
    • Report signs of vandalism or destruction to DGPC or Regional Directorates of Culture (DRC);
    • Share the visiting experience and the archaeological sites, as a way of raising awareness to their preservation and making them better known;
    • Do not buy archaeological materials and report to public security authorities, DGPC or DRC, if you suspect that archaeological materials may be for sale.

    Further information:

    AIA / ATTA (2013) – Guide to best practices for archaeological tourism. 

    Raposo, J. (2016) – Código de conduta para uma visita responsável a sítios arqueológicos. In Sítios arqueológicos portugueses revisitados: 500 arqueossítios ou conjuntos em condições de fruição pública responsável. Al-madan, 2ª série, p. 20 – 77. 

    DGPC contacts

    Phone: +351213614200 | Email:


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