“Coimbra é uma lição, de sonho e tradição”, which means Coimbra is a lesson of dream and tradition, is a verse from a song sang by Amália Rodrigues, the greatest portuguese Fado singer.
Coimbra was inhabited by the Romans and the Arabs. D. Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, was born in the city. The oldest college in the country is at one of its highest points. The city is bathed by the Mondego River and has been the scene of a love story worthy of Shakespeare. Furthermore it is part of the UNESCO Heritage since 1994.
We have chosen the top 5 places you need to visit in this beautiful city.
1. University of Coimbra
Founded in 1290, the University of Coimbra initially started operating in Lisbon and settled permanently in Coimbra in 1537.
After entering the Porta Férrea (railroad door), we can see the Paço das Escolas (Scholl Hall) and the architectural complex that housed the colleges since the 16th century. Before belonging to the university, that space was the first Royal Palace of Portugal, where the first kings of Portugal were born and have lived.
Some mandatory points for the visitor are the Joanina Library, the São Miguel Chapel, the University Tower and the main building, where the Via Latina (long balcony) is located, and the Sala dos Capelos (Chapel Room). Pay attention to the visiting hours of some of the facilities.
Address: Paço das Escolas, Coimbra
Open 24 hours
2. Monastery of Santa Cruz
The Monastery, which has free entry, is located in Coimbra downtown and was founded in 1131 by the Order of Saint Augustine.
The main building to visit in the Monastery is the Church of Santa Cruz, where D. Afonso Henriques, first king of Portugal, is buried. In the back of the Monastery, there is the Manga Garden, also known as Cloister of Manga, dating from the 16th century. Despite being independent today, the garden was initially part of the Monastery.
Address: Praça 8 de Maio, Coimbra
Monday to Friday from 09 AM to 05 PM, Saturday from 09 AM to 12:30 PM and 02 PM to 05 PM, Sunday from 04 PM to 5:30 PM
3. Quinta das Lágrimas
Quinta das Lágrimas is located on the left bank of the Mondego river. It occupies a vast area, in the center of which is a 19th century palace, now re-qualified as a luxury hotel. Its gardens have accumulated memories since the 14th century, mainly due to a love story that gave rise to several legends.
This story can be considered the most famous Portuguese love story, lived between Prince D. Pedro (future Pedro I of Portugal) and the castilian noble D. Inês de Castro, which has been the subject of countless works of art throughout the centuries.
According to the legend, the gardens of this farm have been the scene for the romantic encounters between the two lovers, witnessing moments of joy and tragedy. At Quinta das Lágrimas you will find the Fountain of Loves (Fonte dos Amores) and the Fountain of Tears (Fonte das Lágrimas).
It is said that it was at Fonte dos Amores, wich is surrounded by the walls of the Medieval Garden, that D. Inês used to receive the wooden boats with Pedro’s messages of love. But it is also said that D. Inês’ tears of suffering originated the so-called Fonte das Lágrimas, and that the blood spilled in this tragic story flowed and remained there marked til today, in red mosses.
The visit costs 2 €.
Address: Rua José Vilarinho Raposo 1, Coimbra
Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 07 PM
4. Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra
The garden dates from the 18th century and was opened by the Marquis of Pombal. It is very pleasant to walk down through Alameda das Tílias, Estufa Grande, Estufa Fria, Fontanário and Recanto Tropical, which has different species of palm trees. All in 13 hectares.
Admission is for free.
Open every day from 09 AM to 05:30 PM
5. Santa Clara-a-Velha Monastery
Founded for the first time at the end of the 13th century (1283), by a lady of the nobility, the Monastery was re-founded in the 14th century (1314), by Isabel de Aragão – Queen Santa Isabel – who, after the death of her husband, King D. Dinis, expressed the desire to be buried there.
The ruins of Santa Clara-a-Velha of Coimbra comprise, in addition to the magnificent church with very peculiar characteristics, a cloister with monumental dimensions, which make it the largest known Gothic cloister in Portugal.
A Palace was built next to the fence, where Queen Isabel chose to live. It was also here that D. Inês de Castro was murdered at the behest of D. Afonso IV.
The proximity to the river was one of the factors for the building to be built in this place. However, this proximity marked the history of the Monastery from its beginning to the present day. If, on the one hand, the presence of water was important for the everyday life, on the other, the cyclical floods of the Mondego river made it impossible for the monastic community to stay there, forcing the definitive transfer of the monks, in 1677, to a new convent ( Santa Clara-a-Nova Monastery), at Monte da Esperança.
Entrance to the monastery costs €4.
Address: Rua das Parreiras, Coimbra
Tuesday to Sunday from 09 AM to 07 PM
Now it’s time to walk the streets of Coimbra and discover these places and others in the city. Don’t forget to tag @inlifeportugal when following our tips 😉.
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