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