Did you know that Castro of Monte Mozinho (in Portuguese, Castro de Monte Mozinho) is the largest Roman castro in the Iberian Peninsula? Also called “The Dead City of Penafiel”, this set of ruins has an area of about 20 hectares and is located less than 10 km from Penafiel!
The Castro of Monte Mozinho was founded between the end of the 1st century BC and the beginning of the 1st century AD, having been occupied until the 5th century. At an altitude of over 400 meters, it was made up of family houses and daily life support structures, such as stone ovens and animal shelters!
Most of the artifacts found during the archaeological excavations are displayed in the Municipal Museum of Penafiel and include jewelry, coins, ceramics, and statues!
So, do you want to know more about the Castro Of Monte Mozinho: Best Tips For Visiting In 2023? Keep reading!
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- Interpretive Center of the Castro of Monte Mozinho
- Burial Necropolis
- Roman House with Forge
- Base of Roman Monument
- Outer Wall & Gateway
- Castro Houses
- Roman Houses
Brief History of the Castro of Monte Mozinho
As I mentioned in the introduction, the Castro of Monte Mozinho was built during the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. Fortified with two lines of walls, this ancient settlement has both castro dwellings (circular in plan) and Roman houses (rectangular or square in plan).
Archaeological excavations at the Castro of Monte Mozinho began in 1943 but stopped shortly afterward and were only resumed in 1974. Nowadays, the Castro of Monte Mozinho is a nucleus dependent on the Municipal Museum of Penafiel and is part of the Castro Network of the Peninsular Northwest.
How to Get to the Castro of Monte Mozinho
Unfortunately, the only way to get to the Castro of Monte Mozinho is by car (or by taxi). Therefore, my recommendation is that you visit Penafiel on a day trip from Porto or on a road trip through the Porto district (or even through the Tâmega e Sousa region).
In that case, you can take the opportunity to discover some cities and towns in the vicinity: Paredes (5 km), Lousada (10 km), Marco de Canaveses (18 km), Paços de Ferreira (19 km), Castelo de Paiva (21 km), Felgueiras (24 km), Amarante (26 km), Valongo (26 km), Santo Tirso (33 km), Gondomar (34 km), and Baião (36 km).
Opening Hours & Ticket Prices
The Interpretive Center of the Castro of Monte Mozinho is open from Monday to Friday, from 9:30 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 5:30 pm, and on Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm (from May to September); or from Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 am to 1 pm and from 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm (from October to April).
In addition to Sundays and holidays, the Interpretive Center of the Castro of Monte Mozinho is closed on the holidays of January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th. Even so, it’s important to clarify that the Castro of Monte Mozinho itself is freely accessible!
What to See at the Castro of Monte Mozinho
Interpretive Center of the Castro of Monte Mozinho
Inaugurated in 2004, the Interpretativo Center of the Castro of Monte Mozinho (in Portuguese, Centro Interpretativo do Castro de Monte Mozinho) is an excellent starting point for a visit to the Castro of Monte Mozinho, to better understand the historical context of this archaeological site – which was classified as a Public Interest Property in 1948!
In this small archaeology museum, it’s possible to discover an itinerant exhibition with a series of informative panels about the Castro of Monte Mozinho. In addition to these, there’s a group of artifacts discovered in archaeological excavations, such as castro tradition ceramics.
This Burial Necropolis (in Portuguese, Necrópole de Inumação) dates from the 4th-5th centuries AD and is situated at a considerable distance from the central complex of the Castro of Monte Mozinho. Such a practice was quite common among the Romans and others before them (especially the Greeks and Egyptians).
From a vast cemetery area with several burials, a single tomb framed in stone and tile stands out. A wooden coffin was placed in it, as well as various offerings for the Beyond – namely drinks and food in ceramic containers.
After visiting the Burial Necropolis and before reaching the “heart” of the Castro of Monte Mozinho, it’s very likely that you’ll pass by the Well (in Portuguese, Poço) without realizing that it’s a Well. So pay attention to all the stone piles you find!
More than eight meters deep, this Well still preserves the cuts in the stone where the wooden structure was fixed, which allowed the withdrawal of water to supply houses and shops. Like the Burial Necropolis, the Well of the Castro of Monte Mozinho was designed in the 4th-5th centuries AD.
Roman House with Forge
And behold, we finally arrive at the inhabited part of the Castro of Monte Mozinho, where you can have a general view of the village. This Roman House with Forge (in Portuguese, Casa Romana com Forja) is the first you’ll see of a succession of late Roman buildings spread across the hillside.
Erected in the 3rd-4th centuries AD, in the so-called Low Roman Empire, this Roman House with Forge has the particularity of including a blacksmith shop facing the main street. At that time, the profession of the blacksmith was one of the most essential to community life – hence the need for the Castro of Monte Mozinho to have its own blacksmith and forge.
Base of Roman Monument
A few steps from the main entrance of the wall that protected the Castro of Monte Mozinho, there was a Roman monument dating from the end of the 1st century AD. Interestingly, this area had no houses at that time, whose ruins you can now see in the photograph.
However, the Base of Roman Monument (in Portuguese, Base de Monumento Romano) wasn’t all that could be preserved from this stone structure. Part of the columns that formed it, as well as the sculptural set that decorated its interior is on display at the Municipal Museum of Penafiel!
Outer Wall & Gateway
It may be hard to imagine, but the Gateway of the Castro of Monte Mozinho (in Portuguese, Porta de Entrada) was originally flanked by two turrets. These were accessible via ramps – clearly visible in the second photograph – and allowed the wooden guillotine door to be opened or closed.
There were more ramps along the Outer Wall (in Portuguese, Muralha Exterior), as well as multiple sewers. And at the top of these two towers, it’s thought that there were two statues of Galician warriors, in a dominant position on the slope. In fact, one of them can be admired at the Municipal Museum of Penafiel!
The vast majority of the Castro Houses (in Portuguese, Casas Castrejas) dispersed throughout the Castro of Monte Mozinho were built between the end of the 1st century BC and the 1st century AD. Also called “courtyard houses”, they’re easily recognized by their circular plan.
In general, each Castro House included one or more buildings with a circular plan, with vestibules intended for housing. These were joined by annexes, which could be used either to house animals or to store crops and farm tools.
The Roman Houses of the Castro of Monte Mozinho (in Portuguese, Casas Romanas) were built from the end of the 1st century AD, on the foundations of Castro Houses prior to this period. They are clearly distinguished from the first ones by the absence of circular structures, giving preference to square and rectangular plans.
Another feature of the Roman House is the presence of different buildings, each with a very specific function. Even so, they all faced a central, open-air corridor with a slab-covered floor. And this one had direct access to one of the main streets of the town.
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