Bom Jesus do Monte
Bom Jesus do Monte

Archaeological Tours

Portuguese Archaeology

With the roar of the Atlantic Ocean and the tranquillity of the Iberian hillsides as our constant companions, we will travel through time stopping off at Megalithic standing stones, Iron Age settlements, Roman ruins and Medieval plazas.

We will enjoy a host of UNESCO World Heritage Sites including the city of Evora, where its monuments and defensive walls stretch back over twenty centuries; Sintra, a magical town in which exotically coloured palaces rise out from the dewy forests; and Guimarães, an immaculately preserved medieval town that was the birthplace of Portugal’s first king, Alfonso Henriques.

We will also explore the vibrant maritime city of Lisbon, the ancient University town of Coimbra and Porto, a mecca for connoisseurs of wine. Other highlights include the Almendres Stone Circle from the Megalithic Age, the Gothic masterpiece of Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, the Roman settlement at Conimbriga, the Iron Age hilltown of Citânia de Briteiros, and Castelo de Pena, one of the seven wonders of Portugal.

What's included?

  •  Flights
  •  Accommodation
  •  Services of a professional tour manager
  •  Comfortable coach travel throughout
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary

Today's Price
£1,895

Deposit: £200 Single supplement: £480

Tour highlights:

  • The brightly coloured palaces of Sintra
  • Important archaeological sites including Conimbriga and Citania de Briteiros
  • The historic forest of Buçaco
  • Wine tasting in one of Porto’s famous Port lodges
  • Optional river cruise on the Douro

Tour details

Dates 21 April 2020 - 29 April 2020
Duration 9 days
Cost
Today's Price
£1,895
Deposit: £200 Single supplement: £480 Balance due by 28 January 2020
Activity Level
Tour code BWPOR20A

Book Now or call 01334 657155 if you have any questions

21 April 2020: Itinerary

We depart this morning from London Gatwick on a direct flight to Lisbon. On arrival we are met by our local coach and assistant and depart on an introductory tour of the city. Later we transfer to our comfortable hotel in Lisbon.

The afternoon is free to sightsee at leisure. Dinner is served in the hotel this evening.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Lisbon Marriott

After breakfast we travel to Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we visit the megaliths, including the Almendres Stone Circle and Menhir and the Anta Grande do Zambujeiro. The Almendres megalithic complex (or Almendres Cromlech), is the largest existing group of structured menhirs in the Iberian Peninsula, and one of the largest in Europe. The archaeological site consists of several megalithic structures: cromlechs, and menhir stones, the first belonging to the so-called "megalithic universe of Évora". The structures have been dated back to the 6th millennium BC, though they were only rediscovered in the 1960s by Henrique Leonor Pina. The relative chronology of the cromlech and menhirs is extremely complex and covers a period from the Neolithic to Chalcolithic, and it is believed that the monument had a religious or ceremonial purpose, or functioned as a primitive astronomical observatory. The Anta Grande (or Great Dolmen) of Zambujeiro dates from 4000-3000 BC and is one of the largest structures of its kind in Iberia.

After some free time for lunch (not included) in Évora, we continue with a photo stop at the Cathedral (Sé), the largest of Portugal’s medieval cathedral’s and one of its best examples of Gothic architecture; the Roman Temple, also known (incorrectly) as the Temple of Diana, believed to have been constructed around the first century A.D., located in the main public square of Évora, then called Liberatias Iulia; and opposite it the Igreja de São João, a 15th century convent church which features a stunning collection of blue azulejos (tiles) by António Oliveira Bernardes, dating from the early 1700s.

We return to our hotel in Lisbon, where the evening at leisure.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Lisbon Marriott

After breakfast we depart for a visit to the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, which houses a world class collection of art arranged in two circuits, one featuring classical Greco-Roman and near-Eastern art and the other containing masterpieces of European art, including works by Rembrandt, Rubens, Monet and Van Dyck to name but a few.

We continue with a visit the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos in Belem, close to the river Tagus. This is a Late Gothic Manueline monastery built in memory of Vasco da Gama's discovery of a sea route to India and financed, lavishly, through a tax on the spice trade and built between 1502 and the end of the century. The cloister is astonishingly ornate, and yet peaceful. The cloister garden was once more richly ornamented than it is at present, with the high perpendicular banks covered with tiles and the islands were laid out as gardens. Located within it is the Museu Nacional de Arquelogica, the entrance to which is flanked by two granite statues of Lusitanian Warriors, dating from the 1st century AD and brought from Northern Portugal. The permanent exhibits are divided into Egyptian Antiques and a collection of Treasures of Portuguese Archaeology, consisting mostly of notable metalwork dating from the Bronze and Iron Ages. The museum also possesses the most important Portuguese collection of Roman mosaics, mostly from Southern Portugal.

Return to our hotel in Lisbon where the evening is at leisure.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Lisbon Marriott

Following breakfast we head out of Lisbon to the lush wooded heights of Sintra, where we visit the Palacio Nacional de Sintra. Part of the cultural landscape of Sintra, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is the best preserved medieval Royal Palace in Portugal, having been inhabited more or less continuously from at least the early 15th century to the late 19th century, although its origins lie in a Moorish palace which is mentioned in texts from the 11th century. The vertical arrangement of its spaces, the windows with their surmounted arches and the walls covered in glazed tiles with rich geometrical patterns are all features that underline the Moorish links of the craftsmen who built and embellished the Palace.

In the afternoon we visit the Castelo da Pena, the most complete and notable example of Portuguese architecture in the Romantic period, which stands on one of the rocky peaks of the Serra de Sintra. It was begun in 1839, when the King Consort Dom Fernando II of Saxe Coburg-Gotha purchased the former Hieronymite monastery of Nossa Senhora da Pena. The palace was built in a colourful and hectic romantic style that blends in surprisingly well with its surroundings. King Fernando imported plants that were characteristic of different places in the world, and planted them side by side with Portuguese species, a total of over 2000 species.

Return to our hotel in Lisbon where the evening is at leisure.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Lisbon Marriott

After breakfast we check out of the hotel and depart for Coimbra, breaking our journey with two visits en route, beginning with the Mosteiro de Batalha (the Monastery of the Battle). Originally, and officially known, as the Monastery of Saint Mary of the Victory it was erected in commemoration of the 1385 Battle of Aljubarrota, and would serve as the burial church of the 15th-Century Aviz dynasty of Portuguese royals. It is one of the best and original examples of Late Gothic architecture in Portugal, intermingled with the Manueline style. Please note that as the monastery is closed on Easter Sunday we will have an exterior view only.

We continue to the ruins of the ancient city Conimbriga, the largest Roman settlement in Portugal. Like many archaeological sites, Conimbriga was built in layers, the earliest of which dates back to the 9th Century B.C. The Romans arrived in the 2nd Century A.D., conquering the Celtic inhabitants and establishing a city that grew, flourished, and then fell victim to barbarian invasions until Conimbriga's residents fled to nearby Coimbra in 468 – as we will do ourselves following our visit.

Dinner is served in our hotel in Coimbra this evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Tryp Coimbra

After breakfast we check out of the hotel and depart for the Buçaco Forest, Portugal’s most famous and revered woodland, which was a monastic domain throughout the Middle Ages. Benedictine monks established a hermitage in the midst of it as early as the 6th century and the area remained in religious hands right up until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1834. The forest's great fame and beauty came when the Carmelite monks took over the monastery in the 17th century. They built the walls which surround the property as well as preserving and developing the forest by planting many new varieties of trees including maples, laurels, English oaks, Mexican cedars and cypress trees. The forest now features over 700 species of trees, rare local and exotic plants (some dating as far back as the 17th century and still standing), waterfalls, lakes and gardens.

We continue this afternoon to Porto, where on arrival we will have an introductory tour of the city followed by a wine tasting in one of the famous Port Lodges.

Dinner is served in our hotel in Porto this evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Holiday Inn Gaia

Following breakfast the day is free to explore Porto at leisure. Alternatively, join our optional excursion: transfer by coach to the quay at Vila Nova de Gaia and depart on a boat trip that will take us along the Douro River as far as Regua, with lunch included on board; on arrival at Regua there will be some free time before we return by train to Porto and transfer by coach back to the hotel.

Return to hotel in Porto where the evening is at leisure.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Holiday Inn Gaia

After breakfast today we travel north of Porto for a visit to the religious sanctuary Bom Jesus Do Monte, built on a hilltop in common with many ancient sites of religious devotion in Portugal and other parts of Europe. However, the first indication of a chapel over the hill dates from 1373. This chapel - dedicated to the Holy Cross - was rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1629 a pilgrimage church was built dedicated to the Bom Jesus (Good Jesus), with six chapels dedicated to the Passion of Christ. The present Sanctuary started being built in 1722, under the patronage of the Archbishop of Braga, Rodrigo de Moura Telles, whose coat of arms is seen over the gateway. Under his direction the first stairway row, with chapels dedicated to the Via Crucis, were completed. Each chapel is decorated with terra cotta sculptures depicting the Passion of Christ. He also sponsored the next segment of stairways, which has a zigzag shape and is dedicated to the Five Senses, each represented by a different fountain. At the end of this stairway, a Baroque church was built around 1725 by Manuel Pinto Vilalobos.

We continue to the archaeological site at Citania de Briteiros, a dramatic and mysterious Iron Age hilltown dating back to around 200 BC. The extensive site, straddling a boulder-strewn hill, was home to a people known as the “Bracari”, who probably made a last-ditch stand against the invading Romans and was eventually abandoned by around 100 AD. Its significance lies in the fact that it is one of the earliest sites on the Iberian peninsula that could reasonably be described as an urban settlement.

We conclude today at the UNESCO World Heritage town of Guimaraes, which is associated with the emergence of the Portuguese national identity in the 12th century. An exceptionally well-preserved and authentic example of the evolution of a medieval settlement into a modern town, its rich building typology exemplifies the specific development of Portuguese architecture from the 15th to 19th century through the consistent use of traditional building materials and techniques.

We return to our hotel in Porto where the evening is at leisure.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Holiday Inn Gaia

After breakfast we check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport in time to check in for our morning flight back to London Gatwick, where the group will disperse.

Meals include: Breakfast

21 April 2020: Additional Info

21 April 2020: Accommodation

Featuring an outdoor swimming pool and a relaxing garden area, the large 4-star Lisbon Marriott Hotel offers elegant hotel with city views. It is a 10-minute drive from Lisbon's Humberto Delgado International Airport.

Each air-conditioned room has a décor alluding to Lisbon and its history. All come with a flat-screen cable TV, a desk, floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony with either garden or Lisbon views. Each of the rooms includes a private bathroom with a hairdryer and free toiletries.

An extensive breakfast buffet is provided each morning, with some gluten-free options. Breakfast can be enjoyed in the garden in the warmer months of the year. Marriott Lisbon’s Citrus Restaurant overlooks the palm garden and serves Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisine as well as a selection of local wines. The Tapas & Tiles bar serves light meals, snacks and drinks.

Guests can relax on a poolside sun lounger and enjoy a refreshing drink from the bar. Lisbon Marriott Hotel features a fitness centre, which overlooks the lush garden. A large, well-equipped meeting space is also available, as well as the Mediterranean Ballroom, with a classical décor which includes antique chandeliers. .

TRYP Coimbra enjoys a hill-top location in Coimbra, just 100 yards away from the University Hospitals. The hotel bar features live music once a week.

The air-conditioned guest rooms of TRYP Coimbra are decorated in a modern style with pastel colours. They include a cable TV, minibar and work desk. Each has a private bathroom with a hairdryer.

Located in Vila Nova de Gaia, at a 7-minute drive from the historic Porto centre, this hotel offers soundproofed rooms, a sauna and wellness centre with various beauty treatments. Dom João II Metro Station is 0.6 miles away.

All rooms at Holiday Inn Porto Gaia are air-conditioned and feature modern bedding. Each room has a TV, a well-lit work desk and an en suite bathroom. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel.

The bar has a variety of beer and cocktails and also organizes regular live music shows. Friends Kitchen is located by the hotel lobby and offers local and organic Portuguese cuisine, as well as regional and international wines.

For an invigorating experience, guests can try the Atlantis Circuit at Spa and Tea. A hydrotherapy pool with a different set of jets, sauna and Turkish bath is available with a special discount for our guests.

Holiday Inn Porto Gaia is just 1.2 miles from the Port Wine Cellars. Porto Congress Centre is just 4.3 miles away. Porto International Airport is at an 18-minute drive from Holiday Inn Porto Gaia.

21 April 2020: Enquiries

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