Fondest memory: Walking through the University of Coimbra campus, you will encounter typical "student graffiti." I've noticed this at any Portuguese campus, and I find the petty crime rather entertaining. These graffiti works are far from pleasant looking; they are not the aesthetically pleasing works that one would hope. This student graffiti always has themes of revolution (against the institution and society), of racism, of lies, of yearnings for reform. Although sometimes a bit tactless, I find them interesting to read.
The main entrance to Coimbra (Largo da Portagem) is situated at the bottom of a large hill. To reach the botanical gardens or the University, you have to hike up the steep hill. It's a bit of a workout, but it's good for you (as long as it's not 35 C outside and you feel like you're going to collapse from heat stroke)
Wear sturdy walking shoes.
Favorite thing: I know I complained about the lack of people in Coimbra in August in my introduction, but I would like to modify that statement just a bit. Sure, the city dies down because a huge majority of the population (aka students) are on vacation. The streets are still full of locals, and I found these old-timers to be very intriguing. I encountered many old women who have lived in Coimbra their entire lives, and they were friendly and helpful. They were great conversationalists.
Favorite thing: Wander around the hilly streets of Coimbra. After hours of climbing up and down stairs you will be exhausted. There's many interesting shops lining the narrow stone streets. There's also plenty of opportunities to trip and fall down some of these treacherous stairs!
Favorite thing: Coimbra is famous above all for its ancient university: one of the world's first. Coimbra consists of an upper and lower town. The bridge, Ponte de Santa Clara, crosses the Mondego River and leads onto the main square, Largo da Portagem, at its north-east bank. From here the lower town spreads out principally along the busy and happening Rua Ferreira Borges to the next main square, Praca do Comercio.
I could have put this as a warning but it is not dangerous. I do not recommend trying to drive in Coimbra. For one thing, the streets are narrow and twisty and very difficult to find your way around. For another the streets do not all have large lovely signs like the one in my photo. In fact, if you get away from the old center it appears that some have no signs at all. Even if they do, they are too small to read especially in a moving car and it is worse at night. To illustrate my point, one night we set out in the car as my wife had a broken toe and we weren't sure how far our chosen restaurant was. I got lost very quickly, then got in the wrong lane which put me on a freeway crossing the river out of town. Once across the river I took the first exit thinking I could find a way to reverse direction. For the next hour and a half we wandered the dark, narrow, hilly, twisting streets of suburban Coimbra before finding my way back to the hotel. We gave up the restaurant that night but I scouted it out the next day and we walked to it from our hotel - about a 10 minute stroll! The old city is really easy to navigate on foot and there are alternatives to climbing the steep hills but an automobile is not a good on
Fondest memory: Probably our most enjoyable evening was at the restaurant I mentioned above, the Diligencia with it wonderful Fado singers. On the streets and at the TI you will be given fliers concerning Fado at "a Capella" which is a 14th Century chapel that has been turned into a piano bar. We did not go here but a couple at our hotel said it was very good.
Coimbra is said to be the oldest seat of learning in Portugal with an University founded on the 13th of August in 1290 by King Dinis. This makes it one of the oldest in the world. Six of Portugal’s Kings were born here and in 1139 until 1256 it was the chosen capital of the country.
The original name in the Roman period was Aeminium, and it later developed under the influence of the greater nearby town of Conimbriga.
Favorite thing: I appreciate the fact that this city has maken the most of its space. I love strange-shaped buildings. You know, triangle, obliques, etc. Coimbra is full of many buildings built to fit corners. Skinny, tall, square, small, Sara loves them all!
Largo da Portagem
- Tel.: (+351) 239 48 81 20
- Fax: (+351) 239 48 81 39
- E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is another at the University (Praça da Porta Ferrea)
The Largo da Portagem seems to be the hub of the old city and from it you have easy access to the main pedestrian way, the little mini-buses that circle the old city, taxis one of the Tourist Information offices. The TI is just on the corner to the right as you face the Largo with your back to the river. They are very helpful and have excellent maps of Coimbra.
Fondest memory: Standing tall over the square is a statue of a 19th century prime minister who shut down the cities convents and monasteries and was given the title of "friar killer."
the narrow streets of Coimbra provide for a great place to take interesting photographs using shadows/light reflections/whatnot.
Wander around with your camera and get lost in the labyrinth of streets.
Favorite thing: All over the country you'll find wonderfull tiles, some of them very old. Coimbra is no exception, sou you'll find them all over the city. The tiles i show in my pictures belong to the XVIII century and are quite well preserved.
My buddy Andrew (I call him "Pav") and I had a rental car so who needs reservations? I really enjoyed not having any plans. When we drove into Coimbra (pronounced, "Queembra"), we crossed the Rio Mondego over the Ponte de Santa Clara pictured here and immediately parked in the first spot we saw. There was a turismo right across the street, but it was closed, so we checked out our guidebook, hopped back in the car and found another one that was up by the university. It was a Saturday afternoon and we were hoping that this university town would be lively come nighttime, but to our surprise, there wasn't too much going on. In fact, during our one day in Coimbra, we were surprised at how sleepy the whole place seemed to be.
Fondest memory: Pav and I decided to just go with the flow, so instead of having a wild night out with a bunch of raucous college students, we ended up spending most of our time strolling slowly around the city taking pictures of its semi-lifeless streets.
Favorite thing: There are plenty of unique buildings in Coimbra. You'll see some historic buildings such as those at the university as well as some beautiful azulejos, lovely churches and even some modern buildings to add another texture to this interesting town.
This is really information rather than a tourist tip but I thought I'd include it anyway.
In 1917, Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, was one of 3 children who claimed to see the Virgin at Fatima. The children claimed to have seen 3 prophecies about key 20th Century events. The first was a vision of hell, the second was World War 2 but the third was kept a secret until May 2000.
The third and final vision was interpretted as the assasination attempt on the Pope in 1981. The Vatican only revealed their interpretation of the vision after gaining permission from Dos Santos. She was, at the time, the only surviving member of the 3 children who saw the vision in 1917, the other 2 died of influenza in 1919 and 1920.
Dos Santos was nun at Carmelite Convent and died on 12th February 2005 at the age of 97.