Coimbra

Coimbra – frequent visits since 1963

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City of students

Visiting Coimbra
Visiting Coimbra

Oh Coimbra do Mondego

E dos amores que eu lá tive

Quem te não viu anda cego

Quem te não ama não vive

​(Words form a Coimbra Fado)

University

Coimbra - Santa Cruz
Visiting Coimbra – University

The top reason to visit Coimbra is its university, world heritage for UNESCO.

The old yard, is an absolute must see, if possible climbing to the tower to enjoy its greats views.

The library (Biblioteca Joanina) only allows 60 people each 20 minutes, but it is a severe sin to skip it.

Together with the chapel you must visit the Royal palace and S. Miguel chapel.

With time, colleges, galleries, museums or labs are more than enough to fill a full day.

Sereia Garden

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Visiting Coimbra

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.

Believe me: Most couples visiting it don’t even notice…

Long term lodging

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Visiting Coimbra

“Republicas” is the name given in Coimbra for collective lodging managed by the students. You have the contacts of all the known republicas in: Republicas

Many students do also rent a room, alone or with some friends. It’s common to have advertising in the universities in September.

The students association – AAC – is also a good place to search.

​Both pages are only in Portuguese, but… with not start to learn right now?

Sá da Bandeira avenue

Coimbra
Visiting Coimbra

This avenue connecting the commercial “baixa” with the academic “alta” has no significant detail (well… Avenue Cinema is a classical…), but, maybe because of its importance in moving around, has been embellished with some modern tiles. Nice, but… pastiche.

Don’t read anymore, please, but I can’t resist to tell a true story lived in Avenida cinema:

In the “bad old days” of dictatorship, before passing the movie all cinemas presented a journal (in Portuguese “jornal”, also meaning newspaper) with government’s propaganda.

​One day… a big surprise – no “jornal”.

A student in the auditorium shouted immediately:

– Hey guys, the “jornal” is over.

Another one answered immediately from the balcony:

​- That happens… clean with your hand!

See? I told you not to read!

Jardim da Manga

Coimbra
Visiting Coimbra

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.

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Visiting Coimbra – Santa Cruz

St Cruz Church

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.

​​A national monument​

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Visiting Coimbra

City Hall

Coimbra
Visiting Coimbra

Left of Santa Cruz church, City Hall has a very controversial history.

​Formerly installed in a part of Santa Cruz convent, it was not functional, and suffered several transformations, always discussed until the recent version, dating from the 19th century, with a few changes.

“Quebra-costas”

Coimbra
Visiting Coimbra

The funniest thing of this steep and narrow cobblestone street is its name – backbones breaker. It’s easy to understand why. Hidden below heavy construction, it has a long history, serving as the main passage from the high to the low city, in the students’ access to the university.​

Almedina arch

Coimbra - São Tiago
Visiting Coimbra – Almedina arch

Almedina 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?

Sofia

Coimbra
Visiting Coimbra – Sofia street

One of the historic and most popular streets of Coimbra, it is lined by classical buildings with public services, with some small shops amidst them. A short but nice walk.

Santa Justa

Coimbra
Visiting Coimbra

This dirty façade and the need to “climb” to reach it, repels the visitors from this temple at the end of Sofia, recently abandoned by the Capuchin monks.

Don’t be fooled by the general look. Inside you will have a nice baroque gilded altar, from the 18th century, and many other rich religious pieces

Palace of Justice

Coimbra
Visiting Coimbra

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 public use.

Praça do Comércio

Coimbra
Visiting Coimbra

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

St Tiago

Coimbra - São Bartolomeu
Visiting Coimbra – São Tiago

A restored church from the 12th century, this monument in Praça do Comercio has an interesting Rococo altar in gilded wood.

​It’s free to visit.

​St Bartolomeu

Coimbra - Portagem
Visiting Coimbra – São Bartolomeu

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.

Medieval House

Coimbra
Visiting Coimbra – Medieval house

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.

Address: R Sargento Mor

Portagem

Coimbra
Coimbra – Portagem

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.

Santa Clara

Coimbra
Santa Clara

Just across the river, 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 - Portugal dos Pequeninos
Coimbra

Portugal dos Pequeninos

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Coimbra – Portugal dos Pequeninos

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.

Website: Portugal dos Pequeninos

​Conimbriga

Conimbriga 1
Conimbriga 1

Ten quilometres south of Coimbra, the best roman ruins in Portugal deserve your visit.

The city seems to exist from the 9th century BC, with the Romans arriving 800 years later.

​Only less than one third of the area has been already excavated, but some buildings show good mosaics.

I recommend À Capella

Coimbra Fado

Located in a transformed chapel from the XIV century, the bar “A Capella” features live music, being one of the most regular places to listen to Coimbra Fado.

It was our choice for dinner in our recent visit to town, and we had a good dinner with reasonable music.

Eating in Coimbra
Eating in Coimbra

I was worried, because the comments were very contradictory – very good or very bad – and at the end, we were able to understand why:

The food is tasty and in honest doses, but the service is slow, maybe trying to use food to fill the long breaks in the show. The prices are not high, but 10 € are added by head, to pay the show, and that is really a little bit expensive, because the show is short and only average.

The musicians and singer are technically correct and acceptable to tourists, but, for connoisseurs, they miss expression and soul. 

In the absence of the musicians, the ambient music is generally adequate, with the almost “sacrilegious” mixture of jazz and Lisbon fado. If Lisbon fado may still be accepted to accentuate the differences, jazz is perfectly aberrant in a musical selection where we cannot listen to Luis Góis, Fernando Machado Soares and other giants.

Positive impression Restaurante Praça Velha

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Eating in Coimbra

A sushi restaurant with Portuguese food,​ managed by Chinese with Indian waiters was a surprise in Coimbra.
The food was good, the price was fair, but the service started to be nice to end in a slow confusion.

Nothing serious to complaint, but I think that, unless i read this, it will be forgotten.

Address: Praça do Comércio 69
Telephone: 239 836 704

I recommend Hotel Dom Luís

Coimbra
Coimbra

Perfect for drivers

Very good hotel, with precious views over the city. The rooms are large with perfect bathrooms, the staff was friendly, and breakfast matching the good quality.

Furthermore, I had the privilege of being received in the lobby by a painting of my grand uncle that I never had seen before.​ For people with public transport it is too away from town, despite a shuttle service with a few connections, but for us, it was exactly what we need – calm, safe comfortable, easy to reach and park, at a good price.

Sleeping in Coimbra
Sleeping in Coimbra

Website – D. Luis

Practical

Moving in Coimbra
Elevador 1

Coimbra is a very steep city, and visiting the old quarter is hard, however, you may use the elevator that stands right behind the market to go up, and make your visit from top to base.

​It’s cheap and comfortable.

Imperial memories

Memories of Coimbra
Memories of Coimbra – Portugal dos pequeninos

People strongly condemn the objectives behind the building of a theme park named “Portugal dos Pequeninos” – propaganda to the nationalist regime of Salazar.

Several decades later the park remains, its political purposes are gone (most young people don’t even understand how it worked) but the park keeps being attractive to children, and a nice instrument for any adult to identify the architectural difference from north to south Portugal, and even in some places where Portuguese have been, and let their signs.

…And also to understand how education may be manipulated to build convictions and illusions.

Site: PP

​”Bazofias”

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Memories of Coimbra – Bazófias

People in Coimbra treat the river with love, even forgiving its occasional excesses.

That’s why the river is locally called “O bazófias”, which means the brag.

As a matter of fact flooding is not serious in Coimbra, but the same may not be said about the planes from the city to Figueira da Foz.

​A small weir is closed almost all year, giving the river a look that risks to make visitors think that its nickname is unfair.

Chinatown

Coimbra
Coimbra

Chinese are taking care of commerce in Portugal.

One after the other, local shops are closing, replaced by a bank, a pizzeria or… a Chinese store.

They are discreet, not yet assumed as local community, but very soon we will have also in Portugal our several Chinatowns.

In Coimbra, the streets around the Palace of Justice are already… Chinaland.

Dolce Vita

Shopping in Coimbra
Shopping in Coimbra – Dolce Vita

A Great Mall

Right beside the new football stadium, this is one of the three big malls in Coimbra, and Fernanda’s first choice.

Well, it has a nice decoration and the same shops as all the other malls, selling the same stuff, with the same brands, the same fast-food and fast-buy, fast-live…

Damn globalization!

​I heard that a bigger one was opened west of the river. What will be in it? Who will guess?

Coimbra forum

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Shopping in Coimbra – Coimbra Forum

Yes, a bigger mall

Located in he left side of the river, facing the city, this new mall is, as expected, bigger than its predecessors. What may we expect inside?

The usual – same stuff, same shops, same brands, confirming that commerce is nowadays a sort of card game – they just shuffle and deal, the same cards all around the world.

Ah!

​The building is attractive. As expected!

Coimbra Nightlife

Coimbra
Coimbra

Positive impression There are three alternatives to listen to Coimbra Fado out of the special days – Fado ao Centro with daily shows at 18.00, Diligência Bar, where fado regularly happens at night in the voices of amateurs, and À Capella, a restaurant with professional players.


​We visited this one, had a good dinner, listening to acceptable fado. The price was not cheap, as expected.

Coimbra Nightlife
Coimbra - frequent visits since 1963

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