São Cucufate

Villa - Roman Period, Middle Ages, Middle Ages e Modern Age (8)
The Roman villa of São Cucufate (Saint Cucufate) is located on an extensive platform, slightly elevated but with good visibility over the plains, especially towards the south, in the direction of Beja. This villa has an imposing spatial dimension. The archaeological works allowed the identification of structural and artefactual traces of an imposing Roman villa, with several stages of construction and settlement, chronologically framed between the 1st and 5th/6th century AD, as well as a medieval monastery (13th/14th century), reused during the modern period (15th/17th century). The several construction projects that occurred in the villa of Milreu between the 2nd and 4th centuries AD, display the economic growth and a greater architectural and artistic monumentality, evidence of the high social status of their owners. This villa presents an extended rectangular plan, organized from the front side. The pars urbana occupied the top floor, containing the several habitation compartments belonging to the owner and the pars rustica was placed on the ground floor, including several functional spaces and compartments destined for servants and slaves. The villas' bathhouse was target of restructuring during its occupational period many times, but no deep changes were identified when compared to the domestic areas. In the 4th century AD the construction of a "cult building" is recorded to the south of the town, square in shape and with apse to the northeast, having many architectural similarities to other South Lusitanian buildings, namely those of Milreu villae (CNS 9) and Marim Farmhouse (CNS 583), located in Algarve. Initially, this building would have been a temple associated with the cult of pagan deities, as shown by the use of the courtyard as a funeral space, which was later Christianized. The set of burial graves identified in this area have a rectangular shape, with simple structures (re-purposing of Roman building materials) and with scarce artefacts, framed in the paleo-Christian rituals of Southern Lusitania. It is likely that during the 9th - 10th century, a monastery was firstly founded in the area of the old Roman villa, with the re-purposing of its structures and materials. In the 13th century (1252) this space was donated to the canons of S. Vicente de Fora of Lisbon, who restructured the monastery and founded the parish of Saint Cucufate, inhabiting it until the 17th century. Subsequently, only a hermit friar remained in this location, maintaining the chapel in operation until the 18th century.


This archaeological site has an Interpretive centre with reception and exhibition areas as well as a shop. The site integrates the "Itinerários Arqueológicos do Alentejo e Algarve".

Visit conditions

Entrance with admission ticket


Opening hours: From September 16th to April 30th - Tuesday 14.00 to 17.00. - Wednesday to Sunday 10.00 - 13.00 14.00 - 17.30 From May 2nd to September 15th - Tuesday 14.30 - 18.00 - Wednesday to Sunday 10.00 - 12.30 14.30 - 18.30 Closed: Monday, Tuesday morning, January 1st, Easter (Sunday), April 25th, May 1st, Ascension Day and December 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: informacaoarqueologica@dgpc.pt


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