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Posted by portugalpress on October 10, 2018

Ancient mosaics at the Roman Ruins of Milreu in Estoi are receiving €30,000-worth of restoration work.

The mosaics date back to the third and fourth centuries and are considered a key component of the ruins, which boast ‘National Monument’ status and are a historical landmark in the Algarve.

The work is being carried out by conservation firm Nova Conservação - Restauro e Conservação do Património Artístico e Cultural, Lda and should take around five months to complete.

Among the mosaics being restored are the famous depictions of fish and a “smiling squid”.

The restoration work is part of a larger “makeover” project at the ruins, representing an investment of €530,000. It is being led by the regional culture board (Direcção Regional de Cultura do Algarve) with the support of the CRESC Algarve 2020 community funding programme.

According to the culture board, the works involve “cleaning the mosaics, removing weeds, applying new mortar and sealing the joints”.

The site will remain open to visitors, but the works are expected to condition access to some areas.

The ruins were discovered in 1877 by archaeologist Estácio da Veiga and are believed to have been built in the first century.

As travel guide book publisher Lonely Planet writes, the villa has the characteristic peristyle form, with a gallery of columns around a courtyard.

“The highlight is the temple, the fish mosaics and former central pool which suggest that it was devoted to a water cult,” it says.

“In the sixth century, the temple was converted into a church, and a small mausoleum was added, and in the eighth century it was converted into a mosque. In the 10th century it collapsed, possibly due to an earthquake, and the site was abandoned. In the 15th century, a farmhouse was constructed within the abandoned site (the house, much modified, is still there today).”

The news of the restoration comes at a time when monuments are becoming an increasingly important attraction in the Algarve.

In the first half of 2018, over 197,000 people visited the Algarve’s monuments – a 17.3% increase on the same period last year.

The data refers to the four monuments managed by the region’s culture board – the Sagres Fortress, the Chapel of Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe, the Megalithic Monuments of Alcalar and Milreu’s Roman ruins.