Coimbra Things to Do

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    view from the bridge
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Most Recent Things to Do in Coimbra

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    St Cruz Church

    by solopes Updated Jan 23, 2015

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    What a pity, the condition of this church's entrance.

    The soft stone is degrading the great carvings in its portal, dated from the 16th century.

    Inside, Manueline style in rooms and cloisters hold some fine tombs, including the one of our first king - D Afonso Henriques.

    Coimbra - Portugal
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    St Bartolomeu

    by solopes Updated Jan 23, 2015

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    Half hidden in one of the narrow streets around "Praça do Comércio", this church, started in the 12th century, but totally remodelled in the 16th, has some paintings and a gilded altar from the 18th century.

    Coimbra - Portugal
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    Almedina Arch

    by solopes Updated Jan 23, 2015

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    This arch dated from the 12th century but with some alterations, is the door to the steep old town that spreads over the hills, from the commercial streets of "baixa" to the university.

    Funny question: Why are there always more tourists going up than down?

    Coimbra - Portugal
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    Portagem

    by solopes Updated Jan 23, 2015

    Main entrance to Coimbra from the old road to Lisbon, this small square looks nice, with a permanent movement in its cafes, and with the university in background.

    The old hotel Astoria at its left is already a city's landmark. "Portagem" means toll, which means that in old times crossing the bridge should have been paid.

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    Praça do Comercio

    by solopes Updated Jan 23, 2015

    The so called Commerce square was the center of all activity in ancient times.

    Now commerce moved away, but still may be seen in the narrow streets west of the square. A few monuments surround this lively place

    Coimbra - Portugal
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    Visit the Library

    by cro_gavran Written Nov 26, 2014

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    Most valuable place in the University is Biblioteca Joanina, a magnificent Baroque confection of cleverly-marbled wood, gold leaf and imposing frescoed ceilings of the eighteen century library that holds main intellectual treasure of University. Its decorations and motifs are standing testament on the wealth of Portugal in the time of Colonization, when Library itself was founded. Library was installed in 1717 by Dom João V, who wanted to systemize all knowledge on the University into one organized library, so today its shelves are lined with some 250,000 books dating back to the twelfth century. If you are visiting library, you can see three large annexes in a row, and their intercommunication wisely reproduces the general scheme, driving the look to the founder’s portrait, D. João V, created by the Savoyard painter Domênico Duprà. Bookshelves itself are meticulously decorated with Chinese motifs over a background alternating in shades of green, red and black, made by Manuel da Silva over 40 months. Chinese motifs are reminding on the greatest time in Portuguese history, Ages of Discoveries. Personally I was mostly impressed with Vasco da Gama diary. This Portuguese sailor is in any most interesting person in history of this country for me, but finding out that except his navigational super talent, he also has wonderful calligraphy skills was major surprise in Coimbra for me. Since my father was sailor, heroes of the oversea discoveries were for me like fairy tale superheroes during my childhood. So this was like you just found out another skill of your childhood superhero. Amazing, isn’t it?

    University square
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    Downtown churches

    by jorgejuansanchez Written Sep 16, 2014

    Aftewr visiting the University I walked down to the downtown through the old Jewish quarter. Then I reached a pedestrian street and walked along it until I saw the Manueline façade of the Monastery of Santa Cruz, final resting-place of the first Portuguese monarch Afonso Henriques.
    But still was more pleasantly surprised by the Church of São Tiago within the Praça 8 de Maio, in the civil parish of São Bartolomeu. Unfortunately it was closed but anyway I liked its architecture.
    By the way, I had lunch in that square 8 de maio, but I do not remember the name of the restaurant. In fact I did not care about its name. The food was OK (fish and white wine).

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    Medieval House

    by solopes Updated Sep 14, 2014

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    Walking in central Coimbra, near Praça do Comercio, suddenly, you look to your side and feel like... a giant. What happens?

    No, you aren't taller! No, it is not a extravaganza. It is just a common middle age house two storeys high, that evidences the evolution of building (and people) sizes.

    I don't know if it is possible an inside visit, but... there's no need. The outside is enough to get your respectful smile.

    Coimbra - Medieval house
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    Jardim da Manga

    by solopes Updated Sep 14, 2014

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    Behind the church of Santa Cruz, and accessible from outside, there is a strange garden from the 16th century.

    With lakes and odd constructions, it is... strange, but nice, that's it, squeezed in a narrow space.

    Coimbra - Manga garden
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    Portugal dos Pequeninos

    by solopes Updated Jul 6, 2014

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    Made under the policy of Salazar's dictatorship, this garden intended to develop in the children the idea of empire, showing a rich and large Portugal, from Minho to Timor, passing through all the provinces and colonies.

    The empire was gone, democracy took its place, but the garden keeps being a funny place for the kids, and an excellent place for adults understand the architectural differences inside Portugal, and the insidious ways that can be used to manipulate children (and not only...).

    Entrance costs 8.95€ to adults and 5.95€ to seniors and children over 2 years, with special prices to families and school groups.

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    Santa Clara

    by solopes Updated Jul 6, 2014

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    A convent located in the hills facing Coimbra provides one of the best views of town.

    Furthermore, the church from the XVI century with the tomb of Isabel the "Rainha Santa" (Holy Queen), and the baroque cloister invites you in.

    Why not? It's cool!

    Coimbra - Santa Clara Coimbra - Santa Clara
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    Botanic garden

    by solopes Updated Jul 1, 2014

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    Planned by the Natural History Museum created by the Marques de Pombal (yes, the same that rebuilt Lisbon after the earthquake), the garden, close to the university, is a romantic place for student lovers, but also a real natural world.

    More than one million of different plants demonstrate the international cooperation, and statues, fountains, a laboratory, a chapel from the XVIII century and a library are part of that world.

    The western door (in the photo) was made in 1791 and dedicated to queen Maria I. But... most couples visiting it don't even notice...

    Coimbra -Botanic garden
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    Biblioteca Joanina

    by King_Golo Written May 23, 2014

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    Having worked in Oxford for four years, I would say I'm quite used to lovely old-fashioned libraries. However, when I first set foot into Coimbra's Biblioteca Joanina my Oxford library memories simply seemed to fade away. I was stunned by the sheer beauty of this library. To me, it's one of the most spectacular buildings of the world. In fact, I'm not the only person to have recognized that: the Daily Telegraph mentions Biblioteca Joanina in its list of spectacular libraries.

    So, what's so special about it? Commissioned by King João V the Magnanimous in 1716 who financed it with earnings from gold production in Brazil and looking pretty normal from the outside, the library is a Baroque masterpiece from the inside. On the aptly named "Noble Floor" some 30,000 books are stored on its 72 shelves that are as majestic as can be. Decorated with Chinese motives and filigree carvings, they make up the most of the room, covering every wall. It took Manuel da Silva 40 months to complete all the decorations! Special ladder constructions enable the lucky ones who are allowed to borrow a book from here to access those stored in the upper half of the shelves. Looking up the shelves, you'll be amazed at the next spectacular part of Biblioteca Joanina - its painted ceiling by António Simões Ribeiro and Vicente Nunes. Best of all: the Noble Floor consists of three rooms, so there's a lot to admire!

    Still, this is not enough. The library's interior is kept at a constant temperature of about 19°C which is due to its enormously massive walls. According to the brochure on display, they are 2.11m thick! Moreover, the rooms are home to some rather strange inhabitants, namely bats. While you won't see them during the day, they come out at night and take care of the books by eating any insects that would normally be a dangerous enemy to old books. We were told that the massive wooden tables would be covered at night so that bat droppings - which weren't visible anywhere - couldn't destroy the valuable wood. Altogether, it sounded like a story to good to be believed, but it's true.

    Biblioteca Joanina is, in my opinion, a must-see for every visitor to Portugal. You can only see the library as part of a general visit to the university. At a price of € 8.50 or so, it may seem expensive at first, but it's definitely worth it. When buying a ticket, you will be told a specific time when you can enter the library. Don't miss it, or you've forfeited your right to visit it and need a new ticket. Tickets can be bought at the University Shop in the General Library.

    Slightly illegal picture of Biblioteca Joanina
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    Lush gardens

    by King_Golo Written Apr 27, 2014

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    Coimbra's Jardim Botânico is a beautiful space with lots of old trees, blooming flowers, an avenue of lime trees as well as some benches next to a fountain to relax and admire the view. There is also a huge Ficus Estrangularia tree just next to the greenhouses that you should not miss. We came here on a hot day and were grateful for some shade of which the lush gardens have more than enough.
    Founded in 1772, the Jardim Botânico is allegedly the fifth-oldest botanical garden in the world. Moreover, it's often described as one of the most beautiful ones as well. In view of this, we found it quite strange that there were hardly any people in the park when we went there. After all, it's only five minutes away from the city's main sights.
    The Jardim Botânico is divided into several parts. The upper part is dominated by a square of approximately 100x100m (Quadrado Central) with neat flower beds everywhere and paths crisscrossing it. A fountain marks the middle of it. Around the upper part, there are other less spick and span areas all of which were closed for the public at the time of our visit. The same was true for the lower part, the arboretum. It makes up the best part of a natural valley and immediately makes you forget that you are in the middle of a big city. The trees, among them 50 different species of eucalyptus and a bamboo thicket, are so high and their canopy is so dense that you will feel as though you are in some jungle.
    There is also the so-called Sky Garden, a sort of adventure park where you can navigate your way through the canopy of the trees. It was closed as well, but from what we could see the Sky Garden is huge and boasts some excellent routes high above the ground. I'll give it a try next time!
    The gardens are open daily from 9am to 8pm in summer and 9am to 5.30pm in winter. There is no entrance fee.

    Leaf silhouettes The Quadrado Central
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    Palace of Justice

    by solopes Updated Jan 5, 2014

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    Located in Sofia street, the most traditional street of low Coimbra, this is one of the classical buildings that give character and personality to that street.

    Originally a school, in the 16th century, it became later a Noble's residence, until its final adaptation, 70 years ago, to the actual use.

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