Coimbra

Coimbra is the third largest portuguese city 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 Joao III.

Coimbra is one of the most important urban centers of Portugal after the much larger Lisbon Metropolitan Area and Porto Metropolitan Area conurbations, and plays a role as the chief urban centre of the central part of the country. The city contains important archaeological remains of structures dating from the time when it was the Roman town of Aeminium, such as its well-preserved aqueduct and cryptoporticus, as well as from the period when it served as the capital of Portugal (from 1139 to about 1260).

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It is also worth a visit to the New Cathedral of Coimbra (17th century) and the Machado de Castro Museum, the second most important one in Portugal, housed in the former Palace of the Bishops. The city also houses the University of Coimbra General Library, Portuguese second biggest library, after the National Library in Lisbon, and the Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra from the 18th century.

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 topical 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, cafs, hotels and walks to stroll along the Mondego rivers’ banks.

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