In the centre of Portugal, on the banks of the River Mondego, stands the noble city of Coimbra.
For centuries Coimbra has been the intellectual centre of Portugal: the City of the Students, of the black capes, of Coimbra Fado, of academic bohemia.
In the morning:
University of Coimbra: The University of Coimbra is the oldest in Portugal and one of the oldest and most prestigious in Europe. Founded by King Dinis in 1290, the university institution moved back and forth between Lisbon and Coimbra until King João III established it here in 1537.
University Tower: it has clocks on each face and the “Cabra” (its most famous bell).
Joanina Library: one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, with its detailed painted ceilings, carved tropical wood, and gilded woodcarvings, in true Portuguese Baroque style.
New Cathedral of Coimbra: It is here that the annual Blessing of the Pastes takes place. The most popular and significant day of the Queima das Fitas of Coimbra takes place in the square in front of the New Cathedral: the “grelo” is burnt in the Praxe pot and the finalists release the ribbons in the colour of their faculty.
Coimbra’s Sé Velha cathedral: erected on a hillside in the 12th century, it holds the wisdom of time.
Almedina Gate and Tower: it is the most imposing and emblematic of the towers that composed the circular walled enclosure that delimited the city since the Roman occupation. Although built for defensive purposes, the Almedina Tower was several times the seat of municipal political power.
Church of Santa cruz: The Romanesque monastery was founded in 1131 and inside the main chapel are the tombs of the first two kings of Portugal, Afonso Henrique and Sancho I, who granted privileges and generous donations for the construction of this magnificent religious temple.
Wander the narrow streets of downtown Coimbra and find several restaurants with terraces where you can have lunch.
In the Afternoon:
Jardim da sereia (Mermaid Garden): located in the Republica Square.
Penedo da Saudade: It is said that it was here that the Infante D. Pedro mourned the death of his beloved Inês, the two lovers who lived the most ravishing, and tragic, love story in the history of Portugal. Hence the name and it is still one of the favourite places for lovers and also strongly linked to academic life, since the landscaped belvedere is decorated with nostalgic sayings of the students whose hearts Coimbra stole.
Quinta das lagrimas: According to the legend that Inês was murdered at the behest of Pedro’s father at Fonte dos Amores, and that even today Inês’ blood and Pedro’s tears flow through her. Truth and legend are confused, but the charm of this forest and its gardens is an undeniable reality.
End the day listening to Fado and eating typical Portuguese food.
Fado Hilário, Fado ao Centro or Café Santa Cruz.