Coimbra is a riverfront city in central Portugal and the country’s former capital. We visited Coimbra on two occasions over the past few years. Both times, they were “passing through” visits which meant not a lot of time was spent in this amazing city.
Of course, the main drawcard for this city is the historic University of Coimbra that dates back to 1290, making it the oldest university in the Portuguese speaking world. Today it attracts students from all around the world.
The university is situated on top of a hill so one has to either take the many steps or there is an outdoor elevator.
We had to take a tour of the university in order to visit the famous Biblioteca Joanina, one of the finest old libraries in Europe. Unfortunately no photography was allowed. Don’t even try as you will be removed immediately! I just had to do with a postcard which you can see below.
The university has some amazing buildings with ornate lecture rooms, beautiful ceilings, old tiles and great views across the river.
Walking around the Paco das Escolas courtyard, one gets a sense of great tradition. We witnessed a photoshoot of the latest graduates.
There are lots of statues and plaques to visit and read. Zoom in on some of the finer details.
Just loved this one.
The Chapel of Sao Miguel is the university’s chapel dating back to the 16th century. There is evidence of Manueline carvings at the side entrance.
Make sure you step inside the chapel to view it’s elaborate altar, tiled walls and beautifully ornate windows.
The organ which is still operational was highly decorative and provided great photographic opportunities. It was made in 1733.
Another beautiful ceiling.
So much gilded decor and carved idols. Amazing.
Coimbra is also home to a very well preserved medieval old town. The San Sebastian aqueduct is a great feature near the university. This was built in the 16th Century providing water for the city.
There are many churches to visit but of course time was limited for us. We did wander around the streets taking photos of the colourful homes and singling out lots of windows.
This particular building, although quite old and tired looking, still provided some nice photos.
Flowers make a nice contrast to old buildings.
I often look for a particular colour when walking around. Lots of green here.
There’s also lots of little bits and pieces that will catch your eye.
We stopped by the Jardim da Sereia (Santa Cruz Park). This was quite tired looking but the entrance portico and steps were worth a look. Always love a circular lake with a statue in the centre. There was also a nice café to stop for a break.
Finally we drove by this wall on the way into town and just had to walk back to see it close up. The wall opposite the Municipal Market gives you an overview of Coimbra’s historical buildings via a series of hand-painted tile panels.
There is definitely way more to see in Coimbra and hopefully one day, we will return and spend more time here.
Related posts for more places in Portugal