Coimbra Travel Guide

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Catedral

Catedral

Jose Canedo

Coimbra is the third largest portuguese city with 150.000 inhabitants and it is the biggest city in the central area of Portugal. Coimbra, the first capital of Portugal, is home of Coimbra University, one of the oldest in Europe, founded in Lisbon in 1290 by king Dinis and then transferred to Coimbra in 1537 by King João III. The old University buildings are situated on the top of a hill, which overlooks the city and the river. It is well worth a visit. You enter the old part of the University through an Iron Gate with stone works from the XVII century in manierist style. Inside the gate is the enormous University Patio, with a large statute of João III. Beside the gate, to the left when entering, you will see the long low palace wing with several rooms that worth a visit.

The University Library from the biginning of the XVIII century is in the far-left corner and is well worth taking the tours that are provided. The wood work is realy fascinating. If you're here in the end of April or beginning of May make it a point to see the students party Queima das Fitas, with all the students singing Fado and burning their ribbons at the end of the school year. It is the biggest student party in Europe with the participation of all the 30.000 students of the University

The University's Eighteen-century clock stands in the right hand corner of the courtyard, domineering the skyline. Next to it is a double staircase leading to other parts of the University. Some of the students still wear their black suits and capes, pinned with a colorful ribbon indicating the student's course of study. There are also tears on their capes, which indicate the student's romantic conquests.

Another highlight in Coimbra is the Baixa, on the way there you will visit the old cathedral from the XII century, in tipical portuguese romanesque style. The Baixa is the part of the city down by the river with most traditional shopping. It is full of narrow streets and crowded shops, banks, churches, cafés, hotels and walks to stroll along the Mondego rivers' banks.

Around Coimbra within an hour drive there are several places that worth a visit: Buçaco, Lousa,  Luso, Curia, Figueira da Foz, Condeixa, Conimbriga, Montemor-o-Velho...

You can settle in Coimbra for four or five days and visit all this area.

Contributors

July 05, 2007 change by lpx

October 17, 2008 change by davidx

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