“The “Centum Cellæ” Tower is located in Belmonte, Portugal. A singular lytic monument that, over the centuries, has attracted the attention of onlookers and scholars, raising the most diverse legends and theories around it.
Regarding its original function, it was believed that it could be a “praetorium”. However, archaeological prospecting campaigns in its surrounding area, carried out in the 1960s and 1990s, indicate that it is, more appropriately, a “uilla”.
In the context of the Roman invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, the villa would be owned by “LVCIVS CÆCILIVS”, a wealthy Roman citizen, a tin merchant, who would have built it by the middle of the 1st century. According to archaeological testimonies, it was destroyed in the mid of the 3rd century by a great fire, and later rebuilt.
In medieval times, a chapel was built on its remains under the invocation of St. Cornelius, which legends associated with the place, but which fell into ruins and disappeared completely by the 18th century.
It is possible that in the medieval period the structure of “Centum Cellæ” had some role in the consolidation and defense of the eastern border of the kingdom of Portugal with that of Leon kingdom, having even received charter from Sancho I of Portugal in 1188, where it appears referred to as ” Centuncelli “. Pinho Leal researched, at the turn of the 13th to the 14th century, that the tower would be rebuilt to serve as a watchtower, while the remaining annexes fell into ruins. Nowadays the tower is in the process of being restored.”
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