Milreu Roman Ruins: An Incredible Journey into the Bygone Roman Era
The Milreu Roman ruins are a fairly unknown treasure in the heart of one of Portugal’s most beautiful coastal regions – the Algarve. Situated just outside Faro and near the charming Estoi village, the Milreu ruins are considered to be one of the most important archeological finds in the Algarve region.
Today’s Milreu Algarve ruins, a national heritage site, were once part of a 3rd century, luxurious village-style manor house, which was subsequently converted into a thriving farm. According to some historical accounts, the manor-turned-farm abandoned its pagan status in favor of Christianity in the 6th century. Interestingly, the ruins were also used as a burial site for the Muslims. However, the farm was abandoned in the 10th century due to the collapse of its vaulted ceilings, only to be re-inhabited by constructing a home on the site, at the end of the 15th and start of the 16th century. This structure, at that time, represented the uniqueness of the Algarve’s residential architecture – the cylindrical buttresses.
The Milreu Roman ruins part of the larger Casa Rural das Ruinas, which has now become a visitor center, allowing historians, archeologists and pretty much anyone else a deep insight into the cultural and social activities of the Romans during their time here.
The ruins were part of a larger complex that consisted of a villa, farm buildings, a Roman-style bath, a wine press, and a temple devoted to the pagans. The other most interesting aspects of the Milreu ruins are the colonnade with 22-columns and 2 burial chambers that were situated along one of the side’s of an open-to-air courtyard. There are also signs that the Romans had a fairly evolved water supply-and-drainage system. One of the unique features of the manor house is the use of stones like marble and striking, patterned mosaics depicting marine life.
The Milreu Roman Ruins are located in Estoi, and can be reached by taking the N2 road from Faro, for a short 20 mins drive.