Cerro da Vila

Villa - Roman Period, Medieval Islamic Period e Late Antiquity (14)
The archaeological site of Cerro da Vila is located on a smooth elevation (6m high), on the eastern shore of the Ribeira de Quarteira, 500m away from the coast line and at 2km to the west of the old fishing village of Quarteira, being currently surrounded by the tourist urban area of Vilamoura. The various archaeological works allowed to identify structural and artefact traces of an imposing Roman villa, with several stages of construction and occupation, chronologically framed between the 1st century BC and the 7th century AD (Roman period/ Late Antiquity), as well as materials framed in the 8th century and the beginning of the 10th century AD (Islamic Medieval period). The most imposing residential structures of this villa are located in the highest areas of the elevation, namely the house (domus), arranged around a peristilum, with a tank at the centre, multiple compartments, some of which paved with mosaics, and a private thermal building. This residential cluster shows several stages of construction/refurbishing, reaching its monumental proportions in the 3rd - 4th-centuries AD. On the shores of the lagoon (western area), traces of a roman structure resembling a port have been identified, which attests to the navigability of this river and the importance of the maritime resources, as well as a large thermal building that experienced an extensive use. In the eastern vicinity of this thermal complex, the functional structures of the villa were located, namely several compartments with tanks for the elaboration of fish products and (purple) dyes for fabric colouration, as well as smaller residential areas destined to workers, servants and slaves. The Cerro da Vila has several sepulchral areas that display the deep religious and ritual transformations lived between the Roman period/Late Antiquity. East of the villa, two mausoleums destined to the owner's family were identified, one of them like a temple (similar to the one found on the Roman villa of Milreu), with niches for the placement of funeral urns, used between the 2nd - 3rd centuries AD. The funeral area for the remainder of the community was located to the northeast, presenting simple graves, with different shapes and absent of artefacts, in operation until the 4th/5th-centuries. During Visigothic times (5th - 6th century), changes occurred in the necropolis area, placing it closer to the villa, overlapping previous industrial structures. From the Islamic Medieval period, traces of domestic dwellings with rectangular shape are noticeable, possessing an interior courtyard, with features typical of the rural areas of Al-Andalus, some silos and an abundant and diverse set of materials, namely ceramics vessels. Inside one of the silos, a monetary treasure chronologically framed in the 9th - 10th century was discovered, showing evidence of both the prosperity of this nucleus and the political instability of the territory.


The archaeological site has an on-site interpretive center, with a signposted visit trail and information leaflet available. Ticket purchase on site. The site is integrated in the Archaeological Itineraries of Alentejo and Algarve.

Visit conditions

Entrance with admission ticket


Todos os dias: das 09h30 às 12h30 e das 14h00 às 18h00.


    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: informacaoarqueologica@dgpc.pt


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