Coimbra is the most important town in the centre of Portugal, and one of the most beautiful and historical cities in Portugal, with the gorgeous river Mondego at its feet.
The human presence in this blessed by nature region, with a navigable river, is very remote, and the city was once occupied by Celts and its culture transformed by the Romans. Between 586 and 640 the Visigoths left their mark, and Muslims arrived in 711. The final conquest to Christian troops is made in 1064 by Fernando Mago’s troops, and in 1139 the first Portuguese King, D. Afonso Henriques, declares Coimbra as the kingdom’s Capital, and so it stayed up until 1260.
Coimbra was also an important trading center, specially because of the river Mondego that allowed the communication with the Ocean, through Figueira da Foz.
The Coimbra’s university was one of the most important cultural and development marks throughout the city, and here existed in between 1309 and 1336, 1354 and 1377 and was definitely established in 1537.
With such a rich history that shows up the importance of this town for the Portuguese nationality, Coimbra has much to offer and visit. Several monuments revisit the beginnings of the Portuguese kingdom, on the 12th century, such as the Old Cathedral (“Sé Velha”) and the São Tiago, São Salvador and Santa Cruz (with the first two Portuguese Kings tombs) Churches.
But many other monuments evidence the historical magnitude of Coimbra: the Santa-Clara-a-Velha and Santa-Clara-a-Nova Convents, the Santo António dos Olivais Church, Celas Monastery, the Manga Garden (or Cloyster) or even the new Cathedral (“Sé Nova“).
In Coimbra there are also pleasant green spaces, like the Parque Verde do Mondego Park, the Largo da Portagem small garden, the Dr. Manuel Braga Park, the romantic Penedo da Saudade Garden, the Vale das Flores Park or the Santa Cruz Park.
Definitely not to be missed in Coimbra is the University, with its fantastic Religious Art Museum, the delightful São Miguel Chapel and the amazing Library, a magnificent Baroque construction from the 18th century, profusely decorated, in golden carved wood and other exotic woods and with a collection of around 300 thousand volumes, and the beautiful Botanical Garden. The academic tradition and the students houses and vivacity are present all over Coimbra festivities and day life, as well as the Coimbra’s very own style of music, usually known as the students style: Coimbra’s Fado.
Coimbra also has a great museum variety. The most important is the Machado de Castro national Museum, considered to be one of the most relevant museums in the country.