About Coimbra
Coimbra has long held an important place in Portugal's history since it was the first capital of the country from 1139 to about 1260. The main part of Coimbra is essentially clustered on and around the hill overlooking the River Mondego, although newer parts of the town are spread out all around it below. Coimbra is a place full of tradition and beauty. It's a cosmopolitan city that has developed into an important cultural centre, mainly because of the University of Coimbra, founded in 1290, and it has notable monuments from that era and beyond.
The University of Coimbra (world heritage) is one of the oldest in Europe and due to its monumental buildings and history attracts tourists from around the world. St Peter College (“Colégio de S. Pedro”), the delightful St. Michael Chapel (“Capela de S. Miguel”), the Rector's Palace (“Reitoria”), The Grand Hall (“Sala dos Capelos”), the King John Library (“Biblioteca Joanina”), a magnificent Baroque building from the 18th century, profusely decorated with gilt carved wood and various exotic woods, and containing a collection of around 300 thousand volumes) are world-renowned landmarks situated on the main campus. The university town maintains its century-old academic traditions, as seen in the black-caped students and in the soulful tones of the “fado de Coimbra” (traditional songs sung by students to the accompaniment of guitars). The students’ houses and liveliness are present all over Coimbra and permeate its festivities and daily life.
With such a rich history, Coimbra has much to offer and see. Several monuments hark back to the beginnings of the Portuguese kingdom in the 12th century, such as the Old Cathedral (“Sé Velha”) and the São Tiago, São Salvador and Santa Cruz (with the tombs of the first two kings of Portugal) churches. But many other monuments evince the historical magnitude of Coimbra: the Santa-Clara-a-Velha and Santa-Clara-a-Nova Convents, the Santo António dos Olivais Church, Celas Monastery, the Manga Garden (or Cloister) and even the new Cathedral (“Sé Nova“). In Coimbra there are also pleasant green spaces, like the Parque Verde do Mondego, the beautiful Botanical Garden, the Dr. Manuel Braga Park and the romantic Penedo da Saudade Garden.
Coimbra is home to a fascinating historical heritage, and there are several important archaeological sites within a short distance of the city, which are well worth visiting.
More information about Coimbra can be obtained by following these links:
. University of Coimbra (world heritage)
. Central Tourism Region
. Coimbra District Guide