Castro de Santa Olaia

Fortified Settlement - Neolithic, Iron Age, Roman Period, Medieval Islamic Period e Middle Ages (118)
Also known as: Castro de Santa Eulália / Povoado fortificado de Santa Eulália / Povoado fortificado de Santa Olaia. The Santa Olaia's site (Ferreira-a-Nova / Figueira da Foz/Coimbra) is deployed in a small elevation on the right bank of the Rio Mondego, 3.2km west of the Montemor-o-Velho castle and 2km east of the Maiorca settlement. Located in a strategic position and having access to diverse natural resources, Santa Olaia was a chosen area for settlement since the Neolithic. Traces from this period are limited to some dispersed materials without context, recovered in tree beds or foundation pits. The main occupation moment of Santa Olaia occurs during the 1st Iron Age, between the 9th and the 8th centuries BC, with a Phoenician settlement and the beginning of the construction of the wall, carrying on along the 8th century BC. Between the 7th/6th and the 4th centuries BC, the Phoenician presence becomes consolidated, with the construction of dwellings and the presence of imported ceramics. The last stage of occupation may have occurred between the 4th and 3rd century BC. The Roman presence appears to have been residual and the settlement type is still unknown. Remains of the wall and two square towers from the medieval period are located in the NW sector, indicating the presence of a military structure. Because of its strategic position, Santa Olaia might have had an important role in territorial conquest and defence during the Christian reconquest, a period heavily marked by changes in power. Besides ceramics dated from the Early Medieval period, there are also some productions that can be framed in the Emirate/Caliphate era and Taifa kingdoms, confirming the Islamic presence between the 9th-11th centuries. The terminus of the Islamic dominance matches the date of the oldest written mention of Santa Olaia castle - 1087, and just as in Coimbra, many ceramics, bearing both Christian and Islamic decoration, were found in the area. The abandonment of Santa Olaia might have occurred during the 12th / 13th century, coinciding with the Mondego river line loss of defensive importance. The structures found north of the hill are part of a wall protected settlement, expanded through terraces along the slope, framed in the Iron Age. The dwellings, small/medium-sized and rectangular in shape, would have stone foundations, walls made of adobe and clay pavements (where hearths were located). The buildings, found in flood areas, had rocky foundations, which made them impermeable. On the Northside, on the shores of the nearby "zona ribeirinha", a smelter area was excavated, revealing the metallurgical culture of the settlement.


The site has Interpretive signage.

Visit conditions

Free entrance with information




      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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