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Aquis Querquennis, locally known as A Cidá (in Galician: A Cidade), is a Roman archaeological complex comprising a Roman encampment and a road mansion located in the Baños de Bande parish in the province of Ourense, on the banks of the Limia River in the Las Conchas Reservoir. The encampment was established on the site for construction of the Vía XVIII, or Via Nova, the road connecting Bracara Augusta and Asturica Augusta. Occupied between the last quarter of the 1st century until the decade of the 20s during the 2nd. The road mansion served as lodging for travelers on this important roadway, inhabited during the II – III centuries. It was declared a National Site of Cultural Interest (“BIC”) in September 2018.
The area is traversed by the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, known as “Ruta da Rainha Santa”, the name given it due to the pilgrimage undertaken by Isabel de Portugal in the fourteenth century and emulated during later centuries by countless pilgrims. The pilgrimage route coincides in its initial stretch on the way to Bande with Via Nova, the aforementioned Roman road, and is claimed to be a “Jacobean route” by various associations in the region.
On the site one can find the Porta de Bande and the Aquae Querquennae-Via Nova Translation Center, which houses a museum and several exhibit rooms explaining the archaeological complex.
Discovery and Excavation of the Encampment
The first surveys were carried out by Florentino López Cuevillas in the 1920s, after having visited the compound on June 5, 1921 accompanied by Ramón Otero Pedrayo, Vicente Risco and Bande Farruco Pena’s attorney. In 1949 it was flooded under the Las Conchas Reservoir, property of Fenosa (Northwest Electric Power). Commencing in 1975, the company authorized research excavation under the supervision of Antonio Rodríguez Colmenero, lasting nearly twenty years, focusing especially on the northwest quadrant. Today the research effort continues under the guidance of Santiago Ferrer Sierra.
Description of the Encampment
The encampment, which occupied an area measuring 2.5 hectares, was surrounded by a rectangular-shaped wall with rounded corners. Within it, quadrilateral defense towers stood between the gates and the corners. The wall was erected with small granite binding stones, dry-laid (without mortar), measuring 3.20 m in width and close to 5 m in height, and was topped by semi-cylindrical battlements. The defensive system also had a V-shaped outer fosse, 5 meters wide and approximately 3 m deep. The perimeter was constructed with four monumental gates, including the Mainis Sinistra (main gate on the left side) and the Decumana, located on the West side. The Principalis had two small openings, one for incoming and another for outgoing traffic. The Decumana was similar but had a single opening. The defensive system was supplemented by the intervallum, 11 m wide, forming a safety zone absent any construction between the wall and the first line of buildings.
THE ROAD MANSION
A few meters from the encampment lies the road mansion. This would be the third one on the road from Braga. In it there are several rooms which would be used to accommodate travelers who transited the Roman road as well as stables for cavalry horses. One can also find the oven used for baking bread, along with a circular well. A recessed access lobby can also be seen.
Very close to the road mansion lies a hot spring, known as O Baño. In it there are several stone swimming pools and bathtubs, vestiges of a spa that was in operation until the construction of the aforementioned Las Conchas Reservoir. Roman baths ought to be found here, but they have not yet been excavated.