Rabaçal Museum - Area : Penela City Hall

Picture: View of the central panel in the triclinium
Picture: mosaic station of the year "Spring"
Picture: mosaic station of the year "Winter"


As for the construction layout of the villa, it has a huge symbolic force, created from a central octagon, an octagon which is subsequently seen in the bases of the columns, the motifs of the mosaics, in the shape of the tower at the entrance and the four-apsed room to the northwest.

The erudite architecture of this villa surely has great symbolic significance, which would not have been unrelated to the Judaic-Christian conception of the time. Thus, the twenty-four columns could have referred to the twenty-four hours of the day and night, which, added to the symbolism of the mosaic of the chariot (quadriga), would take us to the seven days of the week (the chariot makes seven circuits of the hippodrome and always starts facing the east, the central point of the zodiac circle) and the twelve months of the year (the hippodrome has twelve starting points and there were twelve horse-drawn chariots). Thus, the architecture of this villa and its decoration tell us of the days, weeks, and months. Even the seasons are represented here symbolically by four noble ladies who are extraordinarily inviting figures, possibly portraits. It should also be noted that this villa, given the materials used in it, may very well have been conceived as a venue for important official ceremonies, appropriate to this political and social level. Notice, above all, the fineness of the decorative elements and the axis of vision of the four female figures, the chariot and the central figure, seated in the centre of the triclinium, so that you may feel how the different gazes follow us as we walk through the corridors and rooms, almost as if marking different times during a ceremony.

The mosaics and architecture of the Roman villa of Rabaçal, which, in addition to European influence, also exhibit considerable African and oriental influence, are reasons enough to be attracted to this site. Stay with us and reflect on the heritage before you. Remember that Man is very often not so far away from the Other. For example, the octagon upon which this architecture is modelled is the same octagon that, on a vertical axis, we have in various Catholic churches, in many mosques and in most Orthodox Christian churches (PESSOA, RODRIGO, SANTOS, 2001, p. 48).

Possible plant of the Roman Villa

Possible plant of the Roman Villa