The Roman Tower of Centum Cellas, Portugal

The Tower of Centum Cellas (also known as the “Tower of St. Cornelius”), located in the municipality of Colmeal da Torre in Portugal, is one of the most enigmatic monuments from the Roman period to be found in the country. These majestic ruins were part of a large Roman villa from the first century AD, situated on the road that linked Augusta Emerita (Mérida) to Bracara Augusta (Braga).

Roman tower of Centum Cellas, Belmonte, Portugal © Carole Raddato

Roman tower of Centum Cellas, Belmonte, Portugal
© Carole Raddato

This rectangular building, made of pink granite blocks, appears to have had three levels with openings of various dimensions. It was thought that it was once a temple, a prison with a hundred cells (hence the name), or possibly a praetorium (the headquarters of a Roman camp), and a building part of Roman villa.

Roman tower of Centum Cellas, Belmonte, Portugal © Carole Raddato

Roman tower of Centum Cellas, Belmonte, Portugal
© Carole Raddato

The IPPAR‘s excavations at the Centum Cellas Tower, undertaken between 1993 and 1998, revealed that it was not a single isolated building but part of a larger and more complex group of structures, including rooms, corridors, staircases, cellars and courtyards.

The tower appears to be the best-preserved part of what was the villa of Lucius Caecilius (according to a dedicatory altar found on the site), a wealthy Roman citizen and tin trader who built his villa here at the beginning of the first century AD, under the supervision of a qualified architect who knew Vitruvius‘ building techniques.

Roman tower of Centum Cellas, Belmonte, Portugal © Carole Raddato

Roman tower of Centum Cellas, Belmonte, Portugal
© Carole Raddato

According to archaeological evidence, the tower was destroyed in the mid-third century by a great fire and was later rebuilt.

Roman tower of Centum Cellas, Belmonte, Portugal © Carole Raddato

Roman tower of Centum Cellas, Belmonte, Portugal
© Carole Raddato

Source: Wikipedia

About followinghadrian

I came, I saw, I photographed... follow me in the footsteps of Hadrian!
This entry was posted in Archaeology Travel, Lusitania, Portugal, Roman villa and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Roman Tower of Centum Cellas, Portugal

  1. It’s nice to find a post about Centum Cellas here since this monument has a special meaning to me. Before the 1993-98 excavations the mystery around the place was fed by several legends, including the one about the golden calf said to be buried under the 100th door. This can explain why several “mysterious” holes were found around and inside the tower🙂.

    But even the excavations results publication ended the discussion about what was Centum Cellas. In the last years another theory has been gaining strength. Some believe that it was in fact the forum of a “civitas” believed to have existed in the region and until recently believed to be located some 4km SW. It’s very interesting indeed since in the XII century the 2nd king of Portugal granted a charter to “Centocelas” before annulling it some few years later in favor to the nearby town of Belmonte much more defensible in those troubled years . In order to receive a charter, Centum Cellas should the be a town…

    Only one small correction about the post: the Saint Cornelius chapel was identified during the excavations as having been built in front of the “tower”, being surrounded by some graves. It’s easy to spot in Google Maps since it’s the only structure that does not follow the general alignment of the ruins. Have a look😉 https://goo.gl/maps/MGiM9

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The Roman Tower of Centum Cellas, Belmonte (Por...

  3. “(…)situated on the road that linked Augusta Emerita (Mérida) to Bracara Augusta (Braga)” — i’m sorry, but this information is not correct. The road Bracara Augusta/Emerita Augusta starts in the North of Portugal and follow the North of Spain. Belmont is in the South direction (in the middle of Portugal), about 300 km.

    Like

  4. blazeaglory says:

    Awesome…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. dianabuja says:

    Reblogged this on DIANABUJA'S BLOG: Africa, The Middle East, Agriculture, History and Culture and commented:
    This is an amazing Roman site in Portugal, built by a Roman tin trader. As the author of the blog says –
    The IPPAR‘s excavations at the Centum Cellas Tower, undertaken between 1993 and 1998, revealed that it was not a single isolated building but part of a larger and more complex group of structures, including rooms, corridors, staircases, cellars and courtyards.

    The tower appears to be the best-preserved part of what was the villa of Lucius Caecilius (according to a dedicatory altar found on the site), a wealthy Roman citizen and tin trader who built his villa here at the beginning of the first century AD, under the supervision of a qualified architect who knew Vitruvius‘ building techniques…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very cool. This gave me inspiration for a ruined tower in a book I’m writing.

    Like

  7. Maria says:

    The tower is located in:
    Colmeal da Torre not in Belmonte

    Like

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