Coimbra, which was formerly the capital of Portugal during the thirteenth century, contains several remarkable edifices, churches, and monasteries dating from that era. As a result, there’s a whole variety of things to do in Coimbra. The city is known for its university, which is one of Europe’s oldest, and it is a laid-back destination with plenty of fantastic bars and restaurants to explore. While it lacks the famous landmarks of Porto and Lisbon, Coimbra gives a genuine Portuguese experience and is well worth visiting. Its great blend of history, culture, and art offer a fascinating and memorable trip. Let’s have a look at some of the top things to do in Coimbra.
Explore the University of Coimbra
The oldest university in Portugal, located on a hill in the heart of the city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a popular tourist destination with centuries of history to display. For a spectacular view of the city, climb the 180 stairs of the 16th-century tower at the university’s top portion. The “Sala dos Capelos”, a 17th-century ceremonial hall, is worth visiting. When you visit, you should take in the spectacular ensemble on the Paço das Escolas courtyard. You’ll begin your journey by crossing the Iron Gate, which previously served as the main entrance to Coimbra’s ancient castle.
Undisciplined students were imprisoned at the students’ jail which is like a peek into history. Don’t forget to check that out. Exploring this place is one of the greatest things to do in Coimbra.
Read Some Books at Biblioteca Joanina
Reading books for a renowned library is also one of the best things to do in Coimbra. This prestigious Baroque library is located on the Paço das Escolas, which was formerly home to Portugal’s first rulers. It dates from the 1720s and must be seen to be appreciated. The library is divided into three large rooms that are separated by enormous entrances. Tall lacquered and gilded bookcases and massive study tables made of dark mahogany imported from Brazil adorn each salon. Over 250,000 books, spanning from the 1500s to the 1700s, are stored here, covering history, medicine, geography, science, and law.
The library has a colony of bats that are raised to eat insects that might destroy the books, which is one of the strangest things you’ll discover about this place.
Explore the Miniature Village
There is no doubt, exploring this cute miniature village would be one of the best things to do in Coimbra. The Portugal dos Pequenitos amusement park, which translates to “Portugal for the Little Ones”, comprises small replicas of most of the country’s architectural landmarks. As you weave through 6ft (2m) castles and fantasy cottages in primary-school sizes, you’ll see Lisbon’s Jerónimos Monastery and Tower of Belem and the nearby Coimbra University. Sure, it’s a novelty, but it’s a lovely, lush location to roam about with your friends, taking photographs and feeling all the positive vibes. Also, you’ll get an idea how a miniature place would feel like.
Head Towards Machado de Castro
Situated in Coimbra’s episcopal palace, Machado de Castro National Museum is named for the eighteenth and nineteenth artist Joaquim Machado de Castro. Visiting this amazing museum is one of the most preferred things to do in Coimbra. The structure was built in stages from medieval times forward and is located next to Coimbra’s Roman forum. The cryptoporticus (covered corridor), a relic of ancient history, is maintained on the lowest floors. Art from area churches and other abandoned religious organizations has been curated for the museum.
You’ll find the most sculpture in any Portuguese National Museum, as well as tapestries, porcelain altarpieces, and a collection of artworks from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century.
Visit Parque Verde do Mondego
The Parque Verde do Mondedo, a delightful green space that is the perfect spot to unwind after running around Coimbra’s gorgeous sites is located alongside the Mondego River, just a short distance from several of the city’s major tourist attractions. Cycling along the riverbanks or heading to the water in one of the pedaloes available for rent are both popular activities for families. The park, which is quiet and serene, also has wonderful views of the river and of Coimbra itself – simply go to the middle of the colorful Pedro and Ines Bridge, which connects the two banks. There are so many things to do in Coimbra, but nothing beats the peace this place gives.
Check out the Monastery of Santa Cruz
This monastery, which dates back to the 12th century, is based in the early years of the Portuguese kingdom. The building, on the other hand, is more recent, with a 16th-century Manueline design exemplified by the enthralling ornamentation on the main gateway, ceiling, and cloister from the outside. The pulpit and gilded oak stalls were constructed in a brilliant Renaissance style later that era.
The graves of Afonso Henriques and Sancho I, Portugal’s first two monarchs, are the main attraction in the monastery. They ruled in the twelfth century, and their remains were moved to a magnificent Manueline ensemble carved by Nicolau Chanterene in the 15th century.
Explore Chapel of Sao Miguel
Despite its basic and nondescript appearance, the Chapel of Sao Miguel, which is located within the university, is worth visiting. While the building’s front doorway is lovely, the chapel’s greatest treasures are found within, where dazzling 17th-century azulejos adorn the walls and ceiling.
There are some great religious artworks on display, as well as a delightful Baroque organ that is still operational. Each year, the chapel hosts several weddings and celebrations. The altarpiece is beautifully designed, and when combined with the diverse colors and patterns on the walls, the Chapel of Sao Miguel becomes a must-see in one of the things to do in Coimbra.
Check Out the Old Cathedral of Coimbra
King Afonso Henriques built this Romanesque cathedral when Coimbra was a crossroads between Christianity and Islam. It was constructed not long after he triumphed over the Moors at the Battle of Ourique in 1139, and it retains much of its Romanesque flavor, unlike many other churches of the time. When you approach the austere front, which is crowned with crenellations and has just narrow apertures in its wall, you’ll realize you’re at a world’s end. Inside, the cathedral’s ancient barrel ceiling spoke to its immense age, and the column capitals had exquisite geometric, foliate, and bestial decorations. There will be 380 of these magnificent capitals to view for medieval art lovers!
We have talked about the best things to do in Coimbra in this article. If you would like to share your Coimbra travel memories or ask questions, please use the comment area below. Thanks for your reading, have a great journey!
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