One of the most evocative archaeological sites in Portugal, Citânia de Briteiros, 15km north of Guimarães, is the largest of a liberal scattering of northern Celtic hill settlements, called citânias (fortified villages), dating back at least 2500 years. It’s also likely that this sprawling 3.8-hectare site, inhabited from about 300 BC to AD 300, was the Celtiberians’ last stronghold against the invading Romans.
When archaeologist Dr Martins Sarmento excavated the site in 1875, he discovered the foundations and ruins of more than 150 rectangular, circular and elliptical stone huts, linked by paved paths and a water-distribution system, all cocooned by multiple protective walls. Highlights include two reconstructed huts that evoke what it was like to live in the settlement and, further down the hill, a bathhouse with a strikingly patterned stone doorway.
Some artefacts are on display in the Sede e Museu Arqueológico in Guimarães, but the Museu da Cultura Castreja also has important artefacts from various sites housed in Sarmento’s 18th- and 19th-century manor house. It’s about 2km back down the hill towards Guimarães in the village of Briteiros Salvador.
From Guimarães, Transdev has about eight weekday buses that pass within 1km of the site; get off between the towns of Briteiros Salvador and Santa Leocádia. Check at the bus station for current schedule information.