3 – Coimbra
Coimbra is Portugal’s city of dreaming spires, even if it’s Romanesque architecture tends towards rounded arches and square towers. This land of history and tradition is located on a beautiful hill, and at her feet rest the calm waters of Mondego, forming a mirror that reflects the city. “She has the air of a gracefully arranged secret”. The seemingly low-key attractions, in a town with a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, have been powerful enough to attract half a million visitors a year. “Her” Roman name is Aeminium.
Population: 150,000. Unique selling point: a beautiful hilltop campus founded before Oxford or Cambridge. Nightlife: cafes and disco-bars (where you are most likely to find any student on a Tuesday or Thursday night).
And what makes Coimbra so unique? It is definitely the fact that it is fully oriented to the student life.
Coimbra is the capital of Coimbra´s district, the main city in central region of Portugal, located in the Baixo Mondego subregion, with about 157,000 inhabitants in 2007. Historic city of students currently has nearly 30 thousand students.
As it was already mentioned, it is bathed by the river Mondego, and home to a city with 319.4 square kilometers of area. The council is limited to the northern city of Mealhada, the east by Penacova, Vila Nova de Poiares and Miranda do Corvo, south by Condeixa-a-Nova, to the west by Montemor-o-Velho and northwest by Cantanhede.
It is considered one of the most important Portuguese cities because of its infrastructure, organizations and companies.
The municipal holiday is the 4th of July in memory of Queen Santa Isabel, patron saint of the city.
Coimbra was National Capital of Culture in 2003 and is one of the oldest cities of Portugal, the main ex-libris of the University, one of the oldest in Europe.”She” is the city of the narrow streets, courtyards, arches and medieval stairs.
Founded by Jesuits in 1598 and built over the centuries XVII and XVIII, the New Cathedral of Coimbra presents characteristics of the churches of the Company of Jesus. The sobriety, austerity and elegance of the churches of this order are quite remarkable.
Between the low and high Coimbra breaks one of the most beautiful Portuguese Romanesque monuments built in 1162. It was here that D. Pedro in 1360, married in secret with D. Inês de Castro, killed 5 years before, in Coimbra. The interior, in contrast to the external appearance, due to the variety of styles that incorporates, consists of three naves. The dome is illuminated by a beautiful Gothic lantern. A remarkable collection of sculptures from the centuries XII, XIV and XVII, can be found on the 1st floor and in the upper floor. The altarpiece of the flamboyant Gothic chapel of death in 1508, was made by the Flemish Jean de Ypres and of Oliver Gant, according to the “Assumption of the Virgin Mary
Two biblical scenes in low relief – “the baptism of Christ” and “Moses saved water” – decorate the font Manueline. In the chapel of S. Peter, written by Nicholas de Chanterene, is the shallow grave of D. Jorge de Almeida, bishop of Coimbra. In the side chapels lie other great characters of Coimbra´s history.
Igreja Santa Cruz
Founded in the reign of D. Afonso Henriques (XII century) , it is defined as a religious building, Romanesque and Renaissance Manueline, under the various interventions that had the subject over time. The body of the church consists on a single nave with two side chapels.
Arco de Almedina
In the end of the busy street that leads Ferreira Borges off the Old Cathedral, and surrounded by houses, is the magnificent Arc of Almedina.
Upon retirement Pombaline the University was founded with scientific purposes, under the auspices of Marquês de Pombal, who, by the diversity and importance of the thousands of botanical species that brings together, brought to life one of the richest and most beautiful gardens in the country.
Its installation in 1773, on land annexed to the College of St. Benedict, of the aqueduct of S. Sebastian and the current military hospital, is due to the diligence of Vandelli, Della-Bella, William Elsden, Avelar Brotero and subsequently, Júlio Henriques.
Universidade de Coimbra
The University is located in the city’s highest hill, in a position overlooking the Mondego.
Many times, Coimbra is called “city of students” or “Lusa-Athens”, mainly for having one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Europe – the University of Coimbra (UC) is the heir of the Study General asked the Pope by King Dinis and a number of prelates Portuguese in 1288, and that was to obtain confirmation Pontificia in 1290 and it was initially established in Lisbon. After a trouble roaming between Lisbon and Coimbra in the XIII and XIV centuries, the university was to establish stable in Coimbra in 1537, the King John III granted the very real space for installation. These facilities were acquired by the University in the reign of Philip I, and since then known as the Palace School. In the days running, the University of Coimbra has approximately 21 000 students, with some of the most selective and demanding academic programs in the country, a large number of units of research courses and taking about 10% of students from 70 different nationalities, thus the most international of universities Portuguese.
Coimbra has also the oldest and largest association of students of the country – the Associação Académica de Coimbra founded on 3 November 1887. This organization represents all students of UC.
Besides the well-known University of Coimbra with its 8 faculties, there are many other schools and public higher education institutions (such as the Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra and Escola Superior de Enfermagem de Coimbra) and private (Escola Universitária Vasco da Gama, Instituto Superior Miguel Torga, Instituto Superior Bissaya Barreto (ISBB), School of Arts University of Coimbra), which means that the city has a total of about 35 000 students in higher education.
The city also has a large number of public schools and private school education, with some of the best in the national ranking – School Infanta Dona Maria (the best in the country in public education), School of Avelar Brotero (public) , Colégio Rainha Santa Isabel (one of the best nationally in private education), Joseph Falcon High School (public), School of Dom Duarte (Public), School of Dom Dinis (public) and the School of Quinta das Flores (public).