Natural Archaelogical Site of Santomé

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A place where the past and nature meet, Santomé is a magnificent indigenous forest that hides an archaeological site where the Celtic and the Galician-Roman cultures coexisted .

ES Conjunto Arqueológico-Natural de Santomé | GL Conxunto Arqueolóxico-Natural de Santomé

This archaelogical site, located just three kilometres away from the downtown area, is essential to understand a fundamental part of the city’s past. It combines historical values (characteristic of a complex archaeological site) with natural ones, derived from a contour that not only retains a peculiar vegetation but enjoys a privileged location with stunning views over the city.

From an archaeological perspective, Santomé stands out as one of the few examples in Spain where you can still see the coexistence, in time and space, of two very different cultures. In the highest part there are remains of a castro, a fortified settlement typical of the Celtic peoples of the Iron Age; in the plain, there is a customary Galician-Roman villa. Both date from the 1st century A.D., which shows how Roman modes and forms coexisted in perfect symbiosis with previous traditions, creating models that will survive long in rural Galicia. 

Its privileged situation over river Lonia (which would act as a defensive element for the settlement) provides a splendid view over the city and the “potholes” that the river has modeled in the stone.

But Santomé is also a fine example of the traditional forest in the valley of Ourense, with an obvious Mediterranean trend. In it oaks are mixed with cork oaks, hom oaks and pines, plus a lot of arbutus. It is located on a cliff over river Lonia, which would act as a defensive element for the settlement. When visiting the place, it is worth to skirt around to enjoy the view over the “potholes” of the river, huge rocks eroded by the whirpools.

A chronological journey

From an informative point of view, the path enters the Celtic settlement, where the most recent archaeological excavations uncovered a complete unit thereof, a district. Around a central street and a square there are different houses (some of them overlapping) spanning a period from the 1st century B.C. until the 2nd century A.D. At the top it was also found a fortress tower that gave access to it.

You leave the village by a cobbled street; more than 30 metres from its original layout are preserved. In the background there are some remains of the first Galician-Roman villa, which belongs to the 1st century A.D. This means that it coexisted with the Celtic village.

Both settlements were abandoned in the 2nd century A.D. It was not until a century later that the area was reoccupied following the traditional Roman models. There are two building units with slight differences.

Thus, the first house (located near the information booth) retains the courtyard, reminiscent of the Roman atrium. In the second house, which also has a patio, the stairs to an upper floor stand out, and also a bedroom on the ground floor with an exceptional heating system (the trivet) derived from the Roman hypocaust.