Criptopórtico de Aeminium

Criptoporticus - Roman Period (2041)
The Aeminium cryptoporticus is located under the Museu Nacional Machado de Castro (MNMC), which was the ancient Episcopal Palace, standing in the "Alta de Coimbra" area. It was constructed in steed slope, creating an artificial platform between the existing yard of the Sé Velha and Sé Nova. The MNMC's western façade (where the loggia is located) overlaps the cryptoporticus façade, becoming quite prominent in the urban landscape of the city (v. Museu Machado de Castro CNS 17840). The archaeological works allowed identifying two different construction stages; the 1st stage - Augustus Principate, early 1st century - corresponds to the construction of the eastern gallery of the cryptoporticus upper floor. This gallery would only have a vaulted nave, with five passages that would open to a terrace to the west, where the forum was located. The 2nd stage - during Claudius reign, mid-1st century, the structure is enlarged, integrating the Augustan building. Its construction would have taken more than a decade and its abandonment may have begun in the late 4th century/early 5th century. Gradually, its upper galleries start to get filled with debris originated from the ruined forum, area in which the Episcopal Palace is built by the late 11th century/early 12th century. Evidence for the cryptoporticus abandonment lies in the traces of landslides that occurred during the 12th/13th and 15th/16th centuries, which damaged its western façade. The final cluttering of the monument would have occurred during the Episcopal Palace's renovation, in the 16th/17th century. The cryptoporticus is composed by a gallery system and vaulted rooms, arranged in two superimposed levels, interconnected by narrow passages, allowing movement inside of the structure. The pavements, currently cobbled, were originally made of dirt. Huge ashlars made of local limestone were used in its construction and the spaces between the walls were filled with landfill debris on its south/southeast side, strengthening and easing the construction in this area. Accessed by stairs in the northern side, the upper level is formed by a double gallery, connected by domed passages that expand to the north, east and south. Part of the main façade, the western branch is composed by a series of seven rectangular compartments (cellae), aligned and interconnected by domed passages, with small gaps to allow ventilation and illumination. A flight of stairs in the west side allowed access to the lower floor, composed by a gallery with seven cellae (taller and wider than the ones found in the upper floor), interconnected by narrow vaulted passages. This floor was partially destroyed by houses raised against this building. The galleries would function as cleaning areas and covered streets. In the southeast quadrant, a door is found, accessing a stair that allowed access to the cryptoporticus inner compartments. A pipeline system assured the drainage of rainwater and the Cloaca Máxima was found at the base of the structure. Built on the middle of the exterior façade, a fountain with a small square at the front would collect (and help to drain) a nearby watercourse.


Access through the Machado de Castro National Museum. Free visit, but guided tours can be booked at the Museum - see access conditions and ticket prices on the website of the Machado de Castro National 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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