City of Coimbra

Coimbra, Portugal: Get Lost in Time in One of Portugal’s Most Historical Cities

Almost every nook of Coimbra, Portugal speaks of historical significance and beauty. Located in central Portugal, the city prides itself as being the home of the world’s second oldest university in the world, the University of Coimbra. The learning institution was founded in August 1290 by King Dinis, and at present, it is attended by 18,000 or so students.

Being home to one of the oldest universities in the world, some of Coimbra’s main attractions involve traditional events held by the university. One of these is the Festa das Latas, a noisy parade held to welcome new students who are then baptized to the academic life in the Mondego River. The Queima das Fitas is also another university spectacle, where at the end of the academic year, students burn the ribbons attached to their gowns; as a part of holding academic traditions, students wear a long black robe under a black cape with ribbons of different colors, each of which represents a particular faculty.

The historical tour around Coimbra Portugal region does not end in the academic ceremonies, though. Around a dozen of kilometers from the city center lies the impressive representation of the ruins of the Roman town of Conimbriga, where the Romans settled during the Iron Age. Built in 1962, the Museu de Conimbriga houses artefacts from the era that would blow any history buff’s mind away. These include a bust of Augustus Caesar and tesselated floors and mosaics the motifs of which include Roman villas and baths.

The trip to Portugal would not be complete without visiting its impressive churches and monasteries. While in Coimbra, Portugal, visitors should not miss the Santa Cruz Monastery, whose historical significance does not end in art and religion. The monastery also holds political significance as its scriptorium was where the propaganda machine of the first king of Portugal, King Afonso Henriques, was operated. The king’s tomb is found in the monastery. Moreover, the Santa Clara Velha Monastery is also an attraction as it is where the remains of two of the most revered queens of Portugal, Santa Clara and Ines de Castro, were temporarily laid to rest.

When visitors are overwhelmed by the weight of the city’s historical beauty, they can rest their eyes on the beauty of the city’s botanical gardens. Coimbra prides itself as being home to the largest boanical gardens not only in Portugal but also in Europe.

Another eye-wonder is the Portugal dos Pequeninos or Portugal for the Little Ones, where visitors, young and old alike, are transported to the miniature version of the houses from every nook of the country. In that world, visitors can marvel at palaces and castles, and at the replica of Lisbon’s 16th century House of Diamonds. Located an hour away from Coimbra is another touristic city worth exploring. The city is home to breathtaking ancient cathedrals, baroque palaces and Rococo-inspired monasteries.

There is no doubt that Coimbra Portugal region has so much to offer, especially in terms of historical beauty, that visitors may not know where to start their tour. A tip for visitors of the city, though, is to begin their tour in Largo da Portagem, where the tourist information center is found.

Coimbra can be reached by bus, train or car. It is internally connected by a huge bus network, the SMTUC, and trolleybuses. By train, the city is only one hour away from Porto and 1 hour and 45 minutes away from Lisbon.

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