Conimbriga Portugal: 3rd Century Mosaic Labyrinth in the House of Fountains

It’s amazing how interesting a few thousand little pieces of stone can be when one has eyes to see their beauty! I first read about the third century Roman mosaics in Conimbriga, Portugal in an article by Carlos Soreto published in Caerdroia: The Journal of Mazes and Labyrinths (XXXIII:2003). Last month I was finally able to visit them.

Conimbriga angular labyrinth

The first is a multicolored mosaic which uses a seven circuit classical labyrinth design that is angular.

Twisting rope pathway to Center

Twisting rope pathway to Center

The labyrinth entrance is in the east, the side closest to the center of the peristyle area and the water.  A tri-colored double twisting “rope” follows the pathway from the opening to the center.

Swirling pathway

Swirling pathway

On either side of the design (east & west) was a different labyrinth-related geometric pattern. Three rows of shapes, two of which bring to mind the moon and/or axe-heads, separate this labyrinth from a second mosaic labyrinth.


It was fascinating to compare and contrast two ancient mosaic labyrinths from the same period as they rested side by side for easy viewing. Their patterns and symbolism seemed strikingly different. My next blog that will feature some of my observations and musings, as well as photos and comments relating to the second labyrinth (shown above on the right).


House of Fountains, Conimbriga, Portugal

Practical details: Conimbriga is a bit more than 100 kilometers north of Lisbon and can be reached easily on a very good highway (A1). It is  less than 20 kilometers from Coimbra. The entrance fee was four euros in 2013; the staff was very helpful. A small guidebook for the site (not in English) can be purchased at the ticket counter. The House of Fountains area is covered, but the rest of the large archeological area is not (bring a hat). A vending machine with coffee and snacks is available in the museum building.


House of Fountains western mosaics and fountain area

Special thanks to my son Dan whose presence made this adventure all the more special. For those who might ask, believe it or not, gazing at a labyrinth, studying one, and or photographing a labyrinth can be just as meaning-full and prayerful as walking through the pattern!

Conimbriga Roman Mosaic Labyrinth

To see Jill’s photos of the modern mosaic-style labyrinth in Sintra, Portugal, click here.

For information about the House of Fountains mosaics, click here.

For a virtual tour of the site (not the mosaics), click here.


4 thoughts on “Conimbriga Portugal: 3rd Century Mosaic Labyrinth in the House of Fountains

  1. Pingback: Conimbriga, Portugal 3rd Century Roman Mosaic Labyrinth 2 with Minotaur | Through Jill's Eyes

  2. Pingback: Labyrinth Mosaic from the 2nd Century A.D. at the Museu Monografico, Conimbriga Portugal | Through Jill's Eyes

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