Coimbra, Portugal

Coimbra, Portugal


Coimbra is the capital of Portugal in the 12th-13th centuries with the country’s oldest university, a baroque library and many churches and monuments, including the former Archbishop’s Palace. In May, when the school year ends, the whole city celebrates Kema das Fitash – graduates burn their robes, go to nightly concerts and arrange parades. Check ANDYEDUCATION.COM to learn more about Portugal.

The city is located quite far from the sea, so it is rarely the main holiday destination for tourists, but many travel to Coimbra for the sights and shopping.

How to get there

The nearest airports to Coimbra are in Porto and Lisbon, and tourists most often come to the city from the same place. You can get to Coimbra by train, bus and rental car. Trains from Porto (one hour) and Lisbon (2 hours) run every day.

It should be specified which railway station this or that train comes to, because there are two of them in Coimbra: Coimbra-A is located in the city center, and Coimbra-B is on the outskirts.

If you use the bus, then from Lisbon to Coimbra is two hours away. The bus is cheaper than the train.

By car

When renting a car, you should drive along the A1 highway. From this highway there are several convenient exits to the city center and to the outskirts. The journey takes about the same time as taking a bus or train.

Due to the complex layout of the city and the lack of free parking in the center, it is recommended to leave the car on the outskirts, where the parking situation is better, and go for a walk. All attractions in the center are within walking distance from each other.

Shopping and souvenirs from Coimbra

As mentioned above, Coimbra is appreciated by tourists as a place for great shopping. In both the Lower and Upper Towns, there are many independent bookstores, boutiques, antique shops and art galleries where you can buy quality items at an affordable price. As for souvenirs of the must buy category, these are quite traditional ceramics for Portugal, cork products, various wines, Beirao liqueur, etc. “fire water” Agua-Ardente, which is made either from grapes or from a mixture of fruits.

Entertainment and attractions of Coimbra

Like many cities with a rich past, Coimbra is conditionally divided into two large areas: the Old, or Upper, city is the oldest part of the city, surrounded by a medieval wall, and the Lower City is larger and is located outside the ancient walls.

If the Upper Town is more interesting for its sights, then the Lower Town attracts tourists with shops, restaurants and other entertainments of a modern nature.

You can get from the Lower City to the Upper City through the ancient gates of the Arc de Almedina or Torre de Anto. Passing through them, you find yourself on narrow cobbled streets, where ancient buildings are adjacent to the student dormitories of the University.


The university is the main attraction of Coimbra. It is located at the highest point of the Upper City, one might say, rises above it. Once upon a time, students were forbidden to leave the Upper City. The building of the University itself is built in the Baroque style, and on its chapel there is an old bell, which the students call “Goat” among themselves. Previously, the ringing of the bell announced the beginning and end of classes, now it is just a reminder of the glorious past of the educational institution.

In the courtyard of the University there is a statue of João III, who not only returned the University to Coimbra, but also gave the Royal Palace for his needs.

In addition to the Royal Palace, the university complex includes such buildings as the Via Latina colonnade, the Sala dos Capelos assembly hall, the elegant University Chapel, and the clock tower with a bell.

Old Library

And next to the University is the Old Library, already founded by King João V. The portal of the library is decorated with two columns, and the interior rooms are impressive: they are richly decorated with ornaments and paintings, decorated in gold, blue and red, and the tables in the reading rooms are made of valuable tree species and lavishly inlaid.

Cathedrals of Coimbra

Near the University are two masterpieces of the temple architecture of Coimbra – the Cathedral of Se Vella and the Cathedral of Se Nova. Se Velha was built in the 11th century in honor of the victory of Christians over the Moors and became a real religious symbol of the city: Portuguese kings were crowned here, the first governor of the city, Sisinandu, is buried on its territory. The cathedral is made in the Romanesque style and, in the opinion of a modern tourist, looks more like a fortress than a temple. At the same time, the influence of Moorish culture is felt in the interior decoration, and its most outstanding part is the altar with Romanesque capitals, called the Ascension of the Virgin Mary.

Se Nova Cathedral is much less old, but it also played an important role in the spiritual life of Coimbra. It was erected in 1598 by the Jesuits and made in the Baroque style. After the abolition of the Jesuit order in 1759, Se Nova Cathedral became part of the bishop’s residence.

No less interesting is the Church of Santa Cruz. It was built by order of the first Portuguese king Alfonso Henriques I as the center of the Augustinian monastery. After the death of the king, his remains were buried here, along with the ashes of his son Sanshu. Before the emergence of the University, the church occupied a significant part of the city and was its first cultural center. Having lost its original meaning, Santa Cruz fell into disrepair. However, in 1502, by order of King Manuel I, the church was restored.

Today it is a quiet place where you can feel that it was here that the spiritual life of the country began. People come here primarily to pay tribute to the past.

Other attractions

Other interesting attractions in Coimbra include the Machado de Castro Museum in the Bishop’s Palace, the beautiful Ponte de Santa Clara Bridge, the park with the “Fountain of Love”, the small Museum-Park “Portugal in Miniature”, the “House of Tears” and the Roman aqueduct.

Coimbra, Portugal