Montinho das Laranjeiras Ruins
When the waters of the River Guadiana rose to an unprecedented level in 1876 and then returned to normal, they left ruins uncovered that were completely unknown. This was how the scientific community became aware of this important Roman “Villa”, identified and excavated at that time by Estácio da Veiga, located on the right bank of the River Guadiana close to the village of Montinho das Laranjeiras and municipal road no. 507, some 6 km south of Alcoutim. The site once again fell into oblivion until 1990, when Professor Justino Maciel launched the re-excavation of the archaeological site, which Hélder Coutinho took over from 2000 onwards.
This archaeological site was founded in the first century B.C. and was occupied continuously until the end of the Islamic period, when it appears to have been abandoned. Because of its location, trading links were established with merchants who plied the river as far as Mértola and it was occupied continuously during the Roman, Visigoth and Islamic periods, as proven by the existing structures: the pars fructuaria, the ecclesia and the buyut, respectively.
Taking advantage of the archaeological research, which was academic in nature, the Municipality of Alcoutim implemented the Project for Restoring and Upgrading the Montinho das Laranjeiras Ruins, designed by the architect Victor Brito. This upgrading project included the restoration of the archaeological structures, consolidating and raising the height of the structures using regional stone and mortar that was identical to the original, the creation of a tour for visitors with information panels, the fencing of the site, a car park, and the building of a wooden observation tower. The Montinho das Laranjeiras Ruins archaeological site was opened on 9th September 2005, by the Algarve Regional Director of Culture, Teresa Pimpão.
The site complements a visit to the Archaeology Museum Centre and it can be accessed and visited freely, but guided tours can also be arranged by submitting a request to the municipality in advance.