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Coimbra, The Charming Old Capital

Culture, history, suggestions, trips, Visit Portugal

What about a trip to Coimbra?

Spending time in Lisbon and looking for a cultural trip? Well, in that case, you must visit the former capital of Portugal: Coimbra.

This fascinating city is only about 2 hours by train from Lisbon and you can easily visit it on a one-day trip.

As I was saying, the main attraction in the city’s cultural heritage.

The Churches

Entering the old city, the first monument you come across is the Santa Cruz Monastery. Here, the first two kings of Portugal were buried, thus, granting the church the status of National Pantheon.

Just a 5 minutes walk and you will encounter the “Sé Velha de Coimbra”, that is, the old cathedral. It looks like a small fortress, a sign of the fact that it was built during belligerent times.

The University

The next stop is the most important one: the University of Coimbra. Founded in 1290, it is the oldest of the country and one of the oldest of the world. It shows three main attractions.

First, the “Joanina library”. In this enchanted labyrinth of wood and gold, ancient books are still intact thanks to the stable environment and the presence of bats that defend them from insects.

Another major attraction is the University church, “ São Miguel chapel”, richly decorated in gold.

Finally, right beside the chapel, it is possible to enter the Royal palace, purchased by the University from the Royal Family in 1597. Here the university holds important ceremonies (such as graduations).
After this cultural immersion, it is time to relax. The university is endowed with a wide botanic garden where students (and tourists) can freely walk and immerse themselves in nature.

For the most interested

The city obviously offers other attractions like Santa Clara monastery, the new cathedral, … but it is actually very pleasing even just walking through its streets.

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