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Coimbra – Portugal’s original capital

Coimbra – City of students and scholars and once the home of the Portuguese kings and queens.

Coimbra (pronounced as Queengbra) is rich in history, prominent in culture, is the third largest city of Portugal and it was during the high middle ages the capital of Portugal.

 

History and cultural roots of Coimbra

City of students and scholars and once the home of the Portuguese kings and queens.

Coimbra (pronounced as Queengbra) is rich in history, prominent in culture, is the third largest city of Portugal and it was during the high middle ages the capital of Portugal.

Portuguese history is about as diverse as it comes and it’s a mix of many cultures. Some of these cultures remaining marks on the landscape and cities have survived to this day, starting with the Iberian Celts than moving on to the Visigoths, the Romans, the Moors, the Jews and the Christians not counting with the influences of the later acclaimed colonies. After the birth of the country of Portugal and it’s dependence from Spain, the city became it’s first capital. Coimbra housed it’s kings and queens and gave birth to it’s first university.

Coimbra university

The university of Coimbra is mostly known and visited for it’s architecturally and historically magnificent university.
The university was founded in 1290 and that makes it one of the oldest in Europe and it is one of the oldest that has been in continues operation in the world.

It’s a university with many old architecturally and historically interesting buildings that are visited and admired by a worldwide audience.

After the city ceased to be the capital of Portugal in the late middle ages it took it’s position as cultural centre and it manages to hold an important part of this position in Portugal to this day.

Read about the current capital of Portugal, Lisbon

Lisbon Portugal an introduction Lisbon beaches Unique venue locations in Lisbon

 

The Romans

Even-though there are signs that it’s history possibly reaches back before the times of the Roman occupation in Portugal, Coimbra’s first significant habitation is thanked to the Romans, more specifically, the Roman settlement of Aeminium, who initially inhabited the town of Conimbriga (roughly 10km south of Coimbra).
The Aeminiums left Conimbriga in the year 468, abruptly, to move from the old city of Conimbriga to the current location of Coimbra in need of higher ground as they where looking for more safety from Suebi Germanic invasions.

Even today visiting the archeological remains at Conimbriga, you can see what a large and rich culture the Aeminiums must have been at this time in Portugal. The Romans where a very important aspect of Portuguese history and also the history of the Portuguese language (rewrite)

In Coimbra some of the old Roman monuments are preserved and in very good state.
Throughout the city, you will notice the aqueduct of saint Sebastion. It stands tall through large parts of the city.
The aquaduct, Aqueduto de São Sebastião is the only remaining really Roman aqueduct in Portugal, although many were build in its likeness.

The Moors in Coimbra

The Moors Coimbra was conquered by the Moors in 713 and it became one of the main thriving commercial centres for trade between the Christian North of which a part is now the current Northern Europe and the Islamic south which was the largest part of Iberia and reached to large parts of Northern Africa.

In this time Coimbra became a more wealthy city.
The Moorish remains are to be found in some of its street plans and noticeable in some of the arches above the streets, it’s most impressive remaining structure is the ‘Arco de Almedina’ meaning the gate of Medina. It was once the main entrance through the city wall into the city of Coimbra and even though it has been much changed over time it’s original design stems from the ninth century. The design was Moorish and much of this is still evident in it’s architecture.

Historical POI

The Arch of Almedina
Moorish architecture Coimbra

A lot of the remaining architecture stems from the time of the reconquest. The city became Portugal’s first capital in 1117 until 1255. The castle that housed the kings during it’s capital time. It was destroyed in the 18th century at the order of famous Marques de Pombal.

Coimbra, like other important cities also has a darker side when it refers to another culture that in medieval times contributed much to Portugal wealth and progress.

Read about locations close to Coimbra

 

 

The Jews of Coimbra

the Jews. whether La Convivencia ( the coexistence of Jews, Moors and Christians) in medieval Portugal really existed is a much debated topic but the Jews where an important and well integrated culture in Portuguese society. Their history goes back as far as the Moorish arrivals in Portugal as they where often set in as translators between the Moors and Christians during the Moorish occupation. But their roots in Portugal could go back much further as the Romans expelled them to the Iberian peninsula. In the middle-ages at least 750,000 Jews lived on the Iberian peninsula.
Coimbra played a major role in the inquisition in Portugal and most of it’s Jewish heritage was destroyed and many Jews where executed, expelled from the country or forced to convert to Christianity.

The Jewish Quarter

What remains can be seen in the Judiaria Velha, Coimbra’s first and oldest Jewish quarter from the 12th century, and the 14th-century Jewish quarter.
The Pátio da Inquisição is an impressive building used by the inquisition and it was the setting where 11,000 Jewish deaths where decided.

Historical POI

Patio of the inquisition
patio of the inquisition Coimbra
The Pátio da Inquisição is an impressive building used by the inquisition and it was the setting where 11,000 Jewish deaths where decided.

Modern Coimbra

Nowadays outside of it’s many monuments reaching high and prominent displaying it’s rich historical past it has much modern influence and architectural extension and the city is spreading vast over the surrounding hills.
It’s still one of the main student metropolis in Portugal and between October and May it’s a busy and lively student city.

The city has grown thanks to it’s international student heritage, growth of population, and it’s acclaimed capital of the central of Portugal and there are literally bars, restaurants, galleries and cultural events happening all year around.

It’s a bustling lively city filled with the academic ambition of learning, of sharing, of internationalization and globalization but it holds strong to it’s past inheritance and that makes it a beautiful and actual place to be.

UNESCO World Heritage

The university became a World Heritage site is 2013 and it is visited much by tourists, The city was build on the original mountain the Romans found safe for their move from Conimbriga and spreading out into it’s hilly and beautiful landscape cut only by the vast Mondego river and all the streams that are born from it.

The surrounding landscape has many ancient and historically important towns, remote, quiet and impressive. Coimbra is surrounded by natural monuments. Tiny ancient villages hidden and undiscovered and there are unexpected natural, historical and cultural surprises wherever you go.

Discover a surprising and fast growing city in Central Portugal. Coimbra, the original capital of Portugal – A diverse mix of culture, history and academic spirit.

THE PEOPLE OF Coimbra: What do they say!

Filipa C. and Sharon F.

respectively 19 and 18 years old and we met them in front of the Cartola bar in Coimbra.Filipa is currently unemployed and Sharon is student of language.
Filipa is from Luxembourg and has lived in Coimbra for the last 3 years and Sharon was born in Coimbra
Their favourite bar in Coimbra is the Low cost bar not far from the Cartola Coimbra.
Favourite Coimbra spots: Terraces and cafes near the Bank of Portugal, Parque Verde, Jardim do Sereia (parque Santa Cruz) and the Botanical gardens of Coimbra.
What they dislike most is the chaotic traffic of Coimbra.

Motor girls Coimbra

check some travel tips in Portugal

The Arrabida, Activities, landscapes and ideas

Andre O.

Coimbra people
Age: 19
Profession: 2rd year Students psychology at Coimbra university
Was born in Coimbra:
From: Coimbra
Nicest locations: Parque Verde, Botanical Gardens.
Favourite restaurants Coimbra: Restaurante Albatroz
Favourite bars Coimbra: Cartola bar, Assoc. Estudantes What Andre likes most about Coimbra is the Academic spirit The culture, history and scholarly atmosphere, what he dislikes most, with a smile, are “As
Trupes” – which are the older students that impose laws to de-green the newer students. One example he mentioned was the rule for 1ste year students to be back in their dormitories early otherwise they may be punished by having their hair shaved.

Historical POINTS OF INTEREST

University

University of Coimbra

Coimbra university Coimbra is mostly known and visited for it’s architecturally and historically magnificent university.
The university was founded in 1290 and that makes it one of the oldest in Europe and it is one of the oldest that has been in continues operation in the world.It’s a university with many old architecturally and historically interesting buildings that are visited and admired by a worldwide audience.After Coimbra ceased to be the capital of Portugal in the late middle ages it took it’s position as cultural centre and it manages to hold an important part of this position in Portugal to this day.

PEOPLE: What are they saying

Maria A.

Name: Maria A.
Age: 90
Profession: Chestnut baker and Tremoço seller
Lives in Coimbra: past 83 years
From: Serra Estrela
Maria doesn’t go out to restaurants or bars, as she said her favourite restaurants closed many years ago. She has a few favourite spots in Coimbra, her favourite being the Penedo da Saudade (Rock of Nostalgia), where once D. Pedro mourned his beloved Inës, casa dos Queimados and the st. Michael’s chapel.Maria was left on the Praça 8 de Maio in the centre of Coimbra when she was 7 years old by her father, she has worked there ever since selling baked chestnuts in winter and Tremoço in Summer. Maria will be 91 years old on the 12 of March.maria

Historical POI

Conimbriga, Roman
Conimbriga

Conimbriga the most impressive Roman remains in Portugal.

Even today visiting the archeological remains at Conimbriga, you can see what a large and rich culture the Aeminiums must have been at this time in Portugal. The Romans where a very important aspect of Portuguese history and also the history of the Portuguese language

aquaduct of CoimbraIn Coimbra some of the old Roman monuments are preserved and in very good state.
Throughout the city, you will notice the aqueduct of saint Sebastion. It stands tall through large parts of the city.
The aquaduct, Aqueduto de São Sebastião is the only remaining really Roman aqueduct in Portugal, although many were build in its likeness.

 

 

PEOPLE: What are they saying

Prof. Eef v.
Professor Eef

Professor Eef @ Coimbra University

Name: Professor Eef v.
Age: 69
Profession: Professor in physics
Lives in Coimbra: Originally from the Netherlands has lived in Coimbra the past 30 years
From: The Netherlands
Most loved places: The university, Praia da Mira in the Coimbra district, Museu e Centro
Favourite restaurants Coimbra: Se Nova restaurant close to the university
Favourite bars Coimbra: Doesn’t really go out to bars

PEOPLE: What are they saying
Gisela C. and Dana G.
Students Biologie Coimbra

Names: Gisela C. and Dana G.
Age: 20
Profession: 3rd year Students biology at the university
Has lived in the city: past 3 years
From: Santa Maria Feira – Oliveira do Hospital
Favourite spots Coimbra:Botanical gardens, Parque Verde, the Old Cathedral of Coimbra and the University of Coimbra
Favourite restaurants Coimbra: Mr. Pizza, Pizza hut, Dom Espeto, O Serenata
Favourite bars Coimbra: Assoc. Estudantes, Café Tropical, Cartola Restaurante Bar
What Gisela and Dana like most: it’s history and culture. What they dislike most are the steep roads they walk daily to the university.

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