Thanks to its ﬁne collection of ruins, it has some of the country's most important archaeological sites. It stands in a place where a Roman city once lay, the capital of Civitas Igaeditanorum (1st century BC) and later the episcopal seat during occupation by the Suebi and Visigoths. It was occupied by Muslims in the 8th century and taken back by Christians in the 12th century. It was donated to the Knights Templar in the 13th century and still has traces of diﬀerent ages that attest to permanent occupation by various civilisations.
A nossa história o seu tempo
Idanha-a-Velha pequena aldeia de ambiente pitoresco, pelo notável conjunto de ruínas que conserva, ocupa um lugar de realce no contexto das estações arqueológicas do País. Ergue-se no espaço onde outrora existiu uma cidade de fundação romana (séc. I a.C.), inserida no território da Civitas Igaeditanorum, tendo sido, mais tarde, município romano. Uma inscrição datada do ano 16 a.C., onde consta que Quintus Tallius, cidadão da Emerita Augusta (Mérida) "deu de boa vontade um relógio aos Igeditanos", testemunha a existência no núcleo urbano nesse momento cronológico. Em 105, a povoação aparece referida numa inscrição da monumental ponte de Alcântara, importante obra de engenharia romana, como um dos municípios que contribuíram para a sua construção.
Diversos vestígios evidenciam, ainda hoje, essa permanência civilizacional: entre outros, o podium de um templo no qual assenta a Torre dos Templários; a Porta Norte e respetiva muralha; um conjunto excecional de inscrições de diversas tipologias e variado espólio disperso. A povoação conheceu no período visigótico, sob o nome da Egitânia, momentos áureos de desenvolvimento, tendo sido sede de diocese desde 599 e centro de cunhagem de moeda em ouro (trientes). São testemunhos materiais desse período, o Baptistério e ruínas anexas do "Palácio dos Bispos" e a designada "Sé Catedral", esta com profundas alterações arquitetónicas posteriores.
Os Árabes ocuparam a cidade até à sua tomada por D. Afonso III, Rei de Leão, durante a reconquista, fazia já parte integrante do Condado Portucalense aquando da fundação de Portugal. Mais tarde D. Afonso Henriques entregou-a aos Templários. Em 1229 D. Sancho II deu-lhe foral. D. Dinis incluiu-a na Ordem de Cristo (1319), seguindo-se outras tentativas de repovoamento. D. Manuel I, em 1510, institui-lhe novo foral de que o Pelourinho ainda é testemunho. Em 1762 figurava como vila, na comarca de Castelo Branco; em 1811, ficava anexa a Idanha-a-Nova; em 1821 tornava-se sede de um pequeno concelho, extinto em 1836.
Intencionalmente, e ao longo dos séculos, pretendeu-se reorganizar todo o espaço urbano, revitalizando-o no domínio social, económico, político e cultural. Porém o seu percurso histórico, de desertificação, estava traçado. Hoje, Idanha-a-Velha, (Monumento Nacional) surge renovada. Uma Aldeia Histórica criteriosamente adaptada para os que aqui residem e para os que a visitam.
What to see
The Roman epigraphic collection in Idanha-a-Velha is one of the largest and most representative in Portugal. It was compiled during different phases of archaeological investigation in the village. It is located in the grounds of the old olive press in the south-eastern part of the village and was set up to show the collection, which before was at Santa Maria Church or the Cathedral. The new museum project made it possible to study and publish this important collection and organise the exhibition Verba Volant, Scripta Manent (words fly but writing endures). Eighty-six of the 210 pieces are on display, harmonising traditional exhibition techniques with multimedia technology. Scientific accuracy made it necessary to offer effective access to the contents to a wide audience and so an interactive exhibition was designed where technology helps to contextualise and interpret the pieces. This project encourages the use of local heritage through scientific research, preservation of archaeological finds and the use of new technology to meet the needs of qualified tourism for the location.
Lagar de Varas / Tourist Office
Large one-storey building restored and converted into a museum. The date of its construction is unknown. It may have been in the late 19th century, judging from the year 1895 engraved on an oil lamp used there. However, the year 1755 carved on a block in the loft walls seems to indicate that there was a press here before. There are also press parts reused in the walls. The press is rectangular and divided into three rooms: drying floor, pressing room and bagasse room. The service entrance was in the one of the barns at the east end of the building. This and another adjoining barn sheltered the press workers and the animals that moved the millstones. The press was acquired by Idanha-a-Nova council from the Marrocos family, for whom it had worked exclusively until 1959. In 2008 the Tourist Office moved there to serve the whole museum complex.
The Roman city was walled between the late 2nd and early 4th centuries AD. The area is oval to cater for the irregular terrain with a perimeter of around 750 m. The sturdy wall reused a lot of previous construction materials. It is reinforced with regularly spaced perimeter towers. The wall constricted the urban area and substantial parts of the town were left outside, including houses and some thermal baths. Later, during the Muslim occupation, the wall was restored and strengthened though they did not change its appearance much. The Knights Templar seem to have used the fortress like a fence, which was occasionally repaired. The North Gate into the city has three round arches all based on salient posts and it is bordered by two of the semi-circular turrets. The road to Braga started here.
The Parish Church, once Misericórdia Church is in renaissance style (17th and 18th century) with popular influences. It is an important collection of religious art, such as a 17th century painting of Our Lady of Mercy and a baroque image of Christ on the Cross. It is rectangular with a single nave and a chancel inscribed and raised and surrounded by pews for the brotherhood to sit in the early 17th century. There is a door with a rounded arch in its façade with a Tau Cross surrounded by six beads and topped by a tiny niche. The portal frames are decorated with geometric and plant motifs. On the side of the façade is the bell tower, maybe from the following century. The steps up to the church end in a landing. Works in the 1970s considerably changed the interior of the church. The latest remodelling restored the original solutions in accordance with contemporary architectural traits.
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