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Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coimbra's location within Portugal
A view of Coimbra.

Coimbra (Portuguese pronunciation: [kuˈĩbɾɐ]) is a city in Coimbra Municipality in Portugal. It served as the country's capital during the First Dynasty (12th Century) and remains home to the University of Coimbra, the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese-speaking world and one of the oldest in Europe.

According to the INE's census of 2001, the city proper had a population of 101,069[1] and the municipality had a population of 148,443 in a 319.4 km² land area. Over 430,000 people live in the Greater Metropolitan Area of Coimbra, comprising 16 municipalities and spreading over 3,372 km². It is the seat of the Centro region, as well as of the District of Coimbra and the Baixo Mondego subregion. Like most university cities, Coimbra is home to many students from elsewhere, including thousands of international students.

Coimbra is one of the most important urban centers of Portugal after the much larger Lisbon Metropolitan Area and Porto Metropolitan Area. Coimbra plays a role as the chief urban centre of the central part of the country. The city contains important archeological remains of structures dating from the time when it was the Roman town of Aeminium, such as its well-preserved aqueduct and cryptoporticus, as well as from the period when it served as the capital of Portugal (from 1139 to about 1260). In the Late Middle-Ages, declining as the political centre of the Kingdom of Portugal, Coimbra began to evolve into a major cultural centre with the foundation of the University of Coimbra in 1290. The university, one of the oldest in Europe, attracts visitors from around the world due to its monumental buildings and history, making the city an important touristic destination.

Contents

Location

View of Coimbra's University Hill from the Mondego River.

The historic city of Coimbra is located in central Portugal, 120 km south of Porto, 195 km north of Lisbon. One of Portugal's biggest crossroads, Coimbra is served by the A1, the main highway of Portugal. It is set by the Mondego River, about 40 km east of Figueira da Foz, a neighbour coastal city with several beaches, summer and seaport facilities on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Just outside the municipality, there are also several picturesque mountain towns such as Lousã and Penacova and spa towns and villages such as Luso, Buçaco and Curia.

Nationwide importance

Having ceased to serve as the capital of Portugal in the 13th century, Coimbra has nevertheless retained considerable importance as the capital of the former Beira province, now designated the Centro region. It is considered alongside Braga the most important city of Portugal outside the Lisbon and Porto Metropolitan Areas, playing a role as the chief city of the whole central area of the country. With a dense urban grid the city of Coimbra is famous for its monuments, churches, libraries, museums, parks, nightlife, healthcare and shopping facilities, but above all for its intense cultural life, centered on the University of Coimbra, one of the oldest universities in Europe. This relevance within the context of the country's cultural life can be seen in the large number of writers, artists and academics connected with the city, which has thus secured throughout its history a reputation as the Lusa Atenas (Lusitanian Athens). For details, see the 'Culture' and 'Famous inhabitants' sections below.

Demographics

A view over Coimbra.

Coimbra municipality has a population of 148,443 inhabitants in a 319.4 km² land area, and 55,402 families (an increase in the number of families of 17.1% was experienced between 1991 and 2001). The city proper has a population of 101,069[1] distributed across the core urban parishes of the municipality. The municipality of Coimbra has a "present population" (população presente) of 157,510 inhabitants, and a "usuary population" (população utente) of 200,000. On average, over 43,000 people flow to Coimbra every day to study and work. About 430,000 inhabitants live in its Greater Metropolitan Area, the Grande Área Metropolitana de Coimbra, made of 16 municipalities comprising a 3372 km² territory. Between 1864 and 2001, Coimbra municipality population tripled (Portugal's population doubled during the same period). Between 1991 and 2001 its population increased 6.75% (Portugal's population increased 4.08% in the same period).[2]

History and landmarks

The city, located over a hill by the river Mondego, was called Aeminium in Roman times. During late Antiquity it became the seat of a Diocesis substituting the nearby city of Conímbriga, which had been captured and partially plundered by invading Germanic peoples in 465 and 468, adopting later the name of the destroyed city. After the Roman city of Civita Aeminium, between 586 and 640, the Visigoths altered the name of the town to Emínio. The Moors occupied Coimbra (Arabic: قُلُمْرِيَة‎, Qulumriyah) around the year 711, turning it into an important commercial link between the Christian North and Muslim South. The city was reconquered by Ferdinand I of León in 1064.

After being reconquered by the Christians, Coimbra became the capital of a new County (County of Coimbra), governed by the Mozarab Sesnando (Sisnando Davides), later incorporated into the County of Portugal. In the mid-12th century, the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, turned Coimbra into the capital of the new Kingdom, a condition the city would keep until the year 1255. Many important monuments of the city date from this early period, like the Old Cathedral, the Church of St. James (Igreja de Santiago) and the Santa Cruz Monastery, which was the most important Portuguese monastic institution at the time.

West façade of Coimbra's Old Cathedral, one of the best preserved romanesque buildings in Portugal.

As early as the Middle Ages, Coimbra was divided into an upper city (Cidade Alta or Almedina), where the aristocracy and the clergy lived, and the low city (Cidade Baixa) by the river, where most commercial activities took place. The city was encircled by a fortified wall, of which some remnants are still visible like the Almedina Gate (Porta da Almedina). The most important work in Gothic style in the city is the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha, founded on the left side of the river Mondego by Queen Elizabeth in the first half of the 14th century. The Monastery was located too close to the river, and frequent floods forced the nuns to abandon it in the 17th century, when the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova was built uphill. The Queen's magnificent gothic tomb was also transferred to the new convent. The ruins of the old convent were unearthed in the 2000s, and can be seen today in the left bank of the river.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, during the Age of Discovery, Coimbra was again one of the main artistic centres of Portugal thanks to both local and royal patronage. Coimbra bishops, religious orders and King Manuel I supported artists like Diogo Pires (father and son), Marcos Pires, João de Castilho, Diogo de Castilho and the Frenchmen, João de Ruão and Nicholas of Chanterene, among others, who left important manueline and renaissance works in the town. Dating from this period are the remodelling (in manueline style) of the Santa Cruz Monastery, including the tombs of Kings Afonso Henriques and Sancho I, the renaissance Manga Fountain, the altarpieces and triumphal portal of the Old Cathedral, among other works.

The University of Coimbra, founded as Studium Generale in Lisbon in 1290 by King Dinis I and relocated several times to Coimbra, was definitively transferred to the premises of Coimbra Royal Palace in 1537 by King John III. Since then, the city life has revolved around the state-run university, and for many decades, several colleges (colégios) created to provide an alternative to the official form of teaching and established by the religious orders in the city, which were later gradually discontinued through the times with the secularization of teaching in Portugal. Built in the 18th century, the Joanina Library (Biblioteca Joanina), a Baroque library, is other notable landmark of the ancient university. The Baroque University Tower (Torre da Universidade), from the school of the German architect Ludovice and built between 1728 and 1733, is the city's «ex-libris».

In 1772, the prime-minister of king José I, the Marquis of Pombal, undertook a deep reform of the University, where the study of the sciences assumed vast importance. The collections of scientific instruments and material acquired since then are nowadays gathered in the Science Museum of the University of Coimbra, and constitute one of the most important historical science collections in Europe.

The first half of the 19th century was a difficult period for Coimbra, being invaded by French troops under the command of Andoche Junot and André Masséna during the Peninsular War. A force of 4,000 Portuguese militia led by Nicholas Trant dealt Masséna a heavy blow when it recaptured the city on 6 October 1810. In March 1811, the militia successfully held the place against the retreating French army. The city recovered in the second half of the century with infrastructure improvements like the telegraph, gas light, the railway system and a railway bridge over the Mondego river.

Apart from the monuments already mentioned, it is also worth a visit to the New Cathedral of Coimbra (17th century) and the Machado de Castro Museum, the second most important one in Portugal, housed in the former Palace of the Bishops. The city also houses the University of Coimbra General Library, Portuguese second biggest library, after the National Library in Lisbon, and the Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra from the 18th century.

Coimbra is also known for the reduced child-scale buildings in the Portugal dos Pequenitos park, an educational theme park built during the Estado Novo. Its buildings are scale copies of Portuguese architectural landmarks and were completed in the 1950s.

Education

The tower of the University of Coimbra.

Coimbra has been called A cidade dos estudantes (The city of the students) or Lusa-Atenas (Lusitan-Athens), mainly because it is the site of the oldest and one of the largest universities in Portugal - the University of Coimbra, a public university whose origins can be traced back to the 13th century. Nowadays, it has students from 70 different nationalities; almost 10% of its students are foreigners, making it Portugal's most international university.

Coimbra is also the place where the oldest and biggest university students' union of Portugal was founded - the Associação Académica de Coimbra (Academic Association of Coimbra), established in 1887.

Besides that, there are also some other schools and institutes of higher education in the city: the Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra, a public polytechnic institute; the Escola Superior de Enfermagem de Coimbra, a public nursing school; and some private higher education institutions such as the Instituto Superior Miguel Torga; the Instituto Superior Bissaya Barreto; the Escola Universitária Vasco da Gama and finally, the Escola Universitária das Artes de Coimbra, an art school.

A large number of higher education students from all of Portugal chose Coimbra's higher learning institutions to study, due to the wide availability of degrees offered in different fields, the student-friendly environment of the city, and the prestige of many of its learning institutions allied to the ancient tradition of Coimbra as the historical capital of higher studies in Portugal.

The city has also a large number of public and private basic and secondary schools, among these some of the best-ranked in the country, like Escola Secundária Infanta D. Maria (public), Escola Secundária José Falcão (public) and Colégio Rainha Santa Isabel (private), as well as several kindergartens and nurseries.

Economy

Visconde da Luz Street in the Baixa of Coimbra.

The wealth of the city rests mostly on its University of Coimbra with about 20,000 students - the city has a total of 35,000 higher education students considering the other higher education institutions based there - but also in shopping, technology and health sciences industry, administrative offices, financial services, law firms and specialized medical care. The city has many private clinics, medical offices and two large independent state hospital centres: the H.U.C. - Hospitais da Universidade de Coimbra, which is a university hospital, and the C.H.C. - Centro Hospitalar de Coimbra, which includes a general hospital. Coimbra has also the regional branch of the national cancer hospital - the I.P.O. - Instituto Português de Oncologia, as well as a military hospital. The Instituto Nacional de Medicina Legal, the state-run forensic science institute of Portugal, is headquartered in Coimbra.

Notable companies based in the municipality of Coimbra include software companies Critical Software and Ciberbit which have their global headquarters in the city, mechanical and electronics engineering company Active Space Technologies, telemetry and Machine to Machine company ISA, Cimpor's cement factory in Souselas (CIMPOR Souselas), the pan-European service facility of Olympus Corporation, the pharmaceuticals companies Bluepharma and BASI, the iron foundry Fucoli-Somepal, civil and engineering construction, public works and housing construction firm A. Baptista de Almeida, and several ceramics, food processing (Probar produces cold meat products and Dan Cake produces sponge cakes and swiss rolls), textiles and wine industries. Handicraft industry is well represented by traditional tapestry and pottery manufacture, and the surroundings of the city have besides forestry, dynamic horticulture production, vineyards and livestock raising. The Instituto Pedro Nunes (Pedro Nunes Institute), a business incubator, dynamically hosts several start-ups which are usually dedicated to technology-related businesses and became independent spin-off companies headquartered across the whole region. The Coimbra Innovation Park is a science and technology park built in 2008, with the objective of promoting innovation and companies that focus on the relationship with R&D facilities to develop their business.[3]

Coimbra has a fresh produce open-air market on every 7th and 23rd days of the month at Feira dos 7 e dos 23, and a large fresh produce market in downtown at Mercado D. Pedro V. The Baixa (downtown) of Coimbra has many coffeehouses and bakeries, and features several specialty shops selling all kind of products in typical old-fashioned architectural surroundings. Large commercial facilities with car park, include a medium-sized shopping center (CoimbraShopping); two larger shopping centers with hypermarket, restaurants, movie theaters and several shops with a selection of some of Portugal's and the world's most famous and stylish international brands (Centro Comercial Dolce Vita and Forum Coimbra); and two retail parks found on the fringes of the city, offering an alternative to the busy city centre (Retail Park Mondego in Taveiro, and Coimbra Retail Park in Eiras).

Culture

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Coimbra fado

Fado de Coimbra (Coimbra Fado) is a highly stylized genre of fado born in the city of Coimbra. Guitar player Carlos Paredes and singer Zeca Afonso, are among its most renowned and historical figures.

Orfeon Académico de Coimbra, the oldest and most famous academic choir in Portugal, an autonomous organization of the students' union Associação Académica de Coimbra, established in 1880 by a law student of the University of Coimbra (UC), and the fado section of UC's Associação Académica de Coimbra itself, are important organizations in Coimbra fado promotion and preservation.

According to tradition, to applaud fado in Lisbon one would clap his hands, while in Coimbra cough as if clearing the throat is the typical way.

Municipality holiday

Coimbra city holiday is the 4th of July. The Coimbra City Festival is in honour of the Queen Saint Elizabeth, wife of the King Dom Dinis and patriarch of the city. The religious festivities take place only in the even numbered years, but the city holiday's celebrations take place every year in July. Special attractions include the fireworks display during the nighttime march of the penitents. The devotion accorded to Queen Donna Isabel began soon after her death and in 1516 she was beatified for the Coimbra Diocese under Pope Leo X, then for the whole country by Pope Paul IV in 1556. The canonization process for Holy Queen Isabel was begun by Don Alfonso de Castelo Branco, in 1612. After verification that the corpse remained uncorrupted a crystal and silver urn was placed at the tomb for veneration by the faithful. The canonization ceremony took place in 1625 with Pope Urban VIII presiding and the local population celebrating the event for a week.

Student festivals

Coimbra's Queima das Fitas Parade. Image shows nearly-graduated medicine students.

Coimbra is also known for its university students' festivals. Two are held every year. The first one, Latada or Festa das Latas (The Tin Can Parade), a homecoming parade, occurs in the beginning of scholar year, and is a welcome to the new university students (Caloiros). The Festa das Latas goes back to the 19th century when the Coimbra students felt the need to express their joy at finishing the school year in as loud a way as possible, using everything at their disposal that would make noise, namely tin cans. The highlight of this festival, which now takes place at the beginning of the academic year (November) is the special parade known as the Latada. After marching through the streets of the city the new students are baptized in the Mondego River thus entering into the Coimbra academic fraternity. The 2nd year's students are awarded their Grelos (a small ribbon). The Grelo is a small, woollen ribbon with the color(s) of the student's faculty that is attached to a student's briefcase. Previous to this, at the morning the students must have visited the Dom Pedro V market where they must get a turnip to sustain the Caloiros during the day's festivities. Besides the tin cans they have tied to their legs, the new students wear all kinds of costumes made up according to the creativity and imagination of their godmothers or godfathers who are older students. They also carry placards with ironic criticisms alluding to certain teachers, the educational system, national events and leaders.

The second one, Queima das Fitas (The Burning of the Ribbons), more important than the first, takes place at the end of the second semester (usually in the beginning of May) and it is one of the biggest student parties in all Europe. It lasts for 8 days, each for each University of Coimbra's Faculty: Letras (Letters), Direito (Law), Medicina (Medicine), Ciências e Tecnologia (Sciences and Technology), Farmácia (Pharmacy), Economia (Economics), Psicologia e Ciências da Educação (Psychology and Education Sciences) and Ciências do Desporto e Educação Física (Sports Sciences and Physical Education).

Although being University of Coimbra's festivals, other higher education students of Coimbra such as the polytechnic's students or private institution's students, are invited every year by the University of Coimbra students who manage and organise this events, to participate in the Tin Can Parade and also in the Burning of the Ribbons. The academic festivities are opened to the entire city community and attract a large number of national and international tourists as well.

Reportedly, during Queima das Fitas, more beer is drank during one week than Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany.[citation needed]

Music acts

Coimbra has a lively music scene that caters for most tastes with lots of festivals and events beyond the academic festivals and the traditional Coimbra fado genre. It boasts several live music venues, and some of the most popular club nights and music festivals in Portugal. Moreover, the Conservatório de Música de Coimbra,[4] the music-related departments of the Associação Académica de Coimbra and the music programmes of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Coimbra are regularly cited among the top music schools in the country. Modern bands and artists with some degree of recognition in the Portuguese music scene include André Sardet, Bunnyranch, WrayGunn and JP Simões.

Media

The Centro region is the third-largest regional media market in Portugal. The Portuguese public radio and television broadcaster Rádio e Televisão de Portugal has regional offices and studios in Coimbra. The Diário de Coimbra and the Diário As Beiras are the two major newspapers based in Coimbra. The students' union of the University of Coimbra has also notable media like the Rádio Universidade de Coimbra radio station and A Cabra newspaper.

Leisure activities

Parks and gardens

Beach on the Mondego River, in the Torres do Mondego parish, Coimbra.

Coimbra has many attractive and pleasant green spaces such as parks, playgrounds, gardens and forests. The most famous park in the city is probably the Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra, the fifth oldest in the world. The city's green areas also include the Mata Nacional do Choupal, the Mata Nacional de Vale de Canas, Jardim da Sereia (also known as Jardim de Santa Cruz), Penedo da Saudade, Parque Manuel Braga, Parque Verde do Mondego and Choupalinho. Quinta das Lágrimas, a 19th century palace and estate, which was transformed into a hotel and golf resort, contains also a large park. Also noteworthy is the Paul de Arzila, a natural reserve occupying an area in Coimbra municipality (in Arzila), and in the neighbouring municipalities of Condeixa-a-Nova and Montemor-o-Velho.

Not far away from the urban center, close to the city itself, and fully set in the municipality of Coimbra, there are plenty of mountain and river landscapes. These include the river beach of Palheiros do Zorro in the parish of Torres do Mondego.

Sport

The 30,210-seater Estádio Cidade de Coimbra (Coimbra City Stadium).

Coimbra is home to Associação Académica de Coimbra - O.A.F. (known simply as Académica), a professional football autonomous organism of the University of Coimbra students' union Associação Académica de Coimbra, founded in 1872 and having its current statute of autonomous football organization since the 1980s. Académica football team plays in the Portuguese Liga at the Estádio Cidade de Coimbra. Clube de Futebol União de Coimbra, another sports club with tradition in the city, owner of a football team which plays in the Portuguese Second Division, is other important club of Coimbra. Coimbra also has one of the largest multisports clubs in Portugal: the University of Coimbra's students' union Associação Académica de Coimbra, includes sections dedicated to a wide array of sports such as rugby, volleyball, handball, rink hockey, basketball, baseball, tennis, swimming, rowing, among many others.

The Estádio Cidade de Coimbra (30,000 seats), which was a site of 2004 European Football Championship and includes olympic swimming pools (Piscinas Municipais), as well as a multiuse sports facility (Pavilhão Multiusos de Coimbra), located both near the stadium; the Estádio Municipal Sérgio Conceição; and the Estádio Universitário de Coimbra, an extensive sports complex of the university on Mondego's left bank, are the main athletics and sports venues in Coimbra. The Pavilhão Jorge Anjinho sports arena (headquarters of Associação Académica de Coimbra - O.A.F.), Pavilhão dos Olivais, and Pavilhão do C.F. União de Coimbra, are other places where some of the most important indoor sports clashes involving teams of Coimbra are played.

Major sports teams based in Coimbra include:

Team Sport League Venue Logo
Associação Académica de Coimbra - O.A.F. Football Portuguese Liga Estádio Cidade de Coimbra logo
Associação Académica de Coimbra - Secção de Basquetebol Basketball Portuguese Basketball League (LCB) Pavilhão Multiusos de Coimbra logo
Associação Académica de Coimbra - Secção de Rugby Rugby Campeonato Nacional Honra/Super Bock Estádio Universitário de Coimbra logo
Associação Académica de Coimbra - Secção de Voleibol Volleyball Portuguese Volleyball League A1 Estádio Universitário de Coimbra logo
C.F. União de Coimbra Football Portuguese Third Division Estádio Sérgio Conceição
Agrária Rugby Campeonato Nacional de Rugby I Divisão Campo da Escola Agrária

Transportation

Ponte do Açude, one of the busiest bridges over Mondego river.
Coimbra-A railway station.

The two banks of Mondego river at Coimbra, are linked by three main bridges: the Ponte do Açude; the Ponte de Santa Clara (Santa Clara bridge), which is the oldest, and the Ponte Rainha Santa also known as Ponte Europa, which is the newest one, finished in 2004.

The city is internally connected by an extensive bus network, the SMTUC (Serviços Municipalizados de Transportes Urbanos de Coimbra, Coimbra Municipality Urban Transport Services) and trolleybuses (the only city in Portugal having them). In the past, the city also had a tram network (some are now parked inside a transportation museum). Taxicabs are also available, and are recognizable as cream or black and green (black car with green rooftop) taxis. The city is a hub for interregional bus services for all the country and abroad. A light-rail metro system, Metro Mondego, is currently being built.

Coimbra has several rail stations. The principal station Coimbra-B is on the main line between Porto and Lisbon. From this, a small spur runs to Coimbra-A, the main station in the city centre. A small regional rail line (Linha da Lousã) also runs from Coimbra Parque at the south edge of the city centre. From Coimbra-Parque is possible to travel to Miranda do Corvo, Lousã and Serpins, among others. Also it is possible to travel by train bweteen Coimbra and Figueira da Foz (Ramal de Alfarelos), and Coimbra, Guarda and Vilar Formoso (Linha da Beira Alta [international]).

Coimbra is served by motorway A1 which connects Lisbon to Porto.

A regional airfield is located in Cernache (Aeródromo Municipal Bissaya Barreto) (CBP) [PCO], 7.5 km SW of the city downtown. With a 920 metre runway and Flight Information Service until the sunset, this regional airport has all the fundamental facilities for private flights.

Accommodation

There is a wide variety of accommodation available, ranging from the camping-park or one of the many inexpensive hostels to the charming downtown hotels and international chain hotels.

Climate

Climate data for Coimbra
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 22.9
(73)
26.2
(79)
30.5
(87)
35.6
(96)
38.0
(100)
42.3
(108)
45.8
(114)
43.7
(111)
40.9
(106)
36.7
(98)
30.4
(87)
24.4
(76)
45.8
(114)
Average high °C (°F) 14.2
(58)
15.4
(60)
17.7
(64)
19.3
(67)
22.0
(72)
25.6
(78)
28.3
(83)
28.8
(84)
27.1
(81)
22.6
(73)
17.4
(63)
14.4
(58)
21.1
(70)
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.05
(50)
11.05
(52)
12.5
(55)
13.95
(57)
16.35
(61)
19.6
(67)
21.75
(71)
21.9
(71)
20.7
(69)
17.35
(63)
13.0
(55)
10.5
(51)
15.7
(60)
Average low °C (°F) 5.9
(43)
6.7
(44)
7.3
(45)
8.6
(47)
10.7
(51)
13.6
(56)
15.2
(59)
15.0
(59)
14.3
(58)
12.1
(54)
8.6
(47)
6.6
(44)
10.4
(51)
Record low °C (°F) -3.8
(25)
-4.0
(25)
-2.2
(28)
0.4
(33)
3.3
(38)
5.6
(42)
6.7
(44)
8.9
(48)
4.3
(40)
1.7
(35)
-2.0
(28)
-3.0
(27)
-4.0
(25)
Precipitation mm (inches) 137.8
(5.43)
140.3
(5.52)
88.5
(3.48)
90.4
(3.56)
78.6
(3.09)
51.4
(2.02)
13.6
(0.54)
12.9
(0.51)
47.7
(1.88)
96.4
(3.8)
128.9
(5.07)
129.9
(5.11)
1,012.9
(39.88)
Avg. precipitation days 16 15 14 14 12 9 5 5 8 13 14 14 141
Source: Instituto Geofísico da Universidade de Coimbra (IGUC) (1961-1990 climatology) [5]

Famous inhabitants

Portugal's first king, Afonso Henriques is buried in Coimbra.
The poet Luis Vaz de Camoes was from Coimbra

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Coimbra is twinned with:[6]

Source: Câmara Municipal de Coimbra (Coimbra City Hall) official website[6]

See also

References

Notes

External links

Official websites
Other websites

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Coimbra [1] is a city in Central Portugal.It is the main city in the Centro region.

Coimbra
Coimbra

Get in

Train station(Coimbra via Coimbra-B)

By plane

The most convenient airports for Coimbra are (in order of distance):

By train

All of the trains connecting Porto and Lisbon stop at Coimbra- B; about 1h00 from Porto and about 1h 45m from Lisbon. Long distance services only serve Coimbra B station (away from city center) but all tickets include a 5 min train ride to Coimbra A (center of Coimbra)"Baixa de Coimbra"{downtown}. Fast train only stop at Coimbra-B station, while Coimbra, or Coimbra-A is right in the city center. Train times (from any location) can be found on the National Rail - CP[4]

By car

The best way to drive to Coimbra is using the A1 Highway. Take any exit to Coimbra and you will be about 10 min away from the city center.

By Bus

The bus station is located at Av. Fernão de Magalhães and is easily reached with a local bus or by foot(a long walk{10 minutes} to city center). It has destinations for all of Portugal (with changes for some far away destinations), it´s faster and fares are - normally - cheaper than the train.

Coimbra is hard city to drive as it was built around the medieval structures. The best option for visiting Coimbra is to find an hotel with parking or to park near the city center and then walk around. The main attractions are in the city center and within walking distance of each other. Driving not advised in the city center, unless familiar. Also, parking is difficult. Coimbra Baixa is the lower{downtown}; Alta is the highest part of the city,also difficult to drive.

Get around

Most of the things to see and do in Coimbra, and most of the places to eat, drink and sleep are within reasonable walking distance of each other and of the rail station,in Baixa. There several hotels, residencials, pensions, restaurants, cafes, pastry shops, and nightclubs. Transit: buses, trolleys, electric cars. Most monuments are in Baixa and Santa Clara(across Mondego river). Smaller shops,restaurants,hotels,mostly in Baixa and Santa Clara. Major Shopping malls are in Alta,by Solum,near municipal staduim/pool.

Coimbra
Coimbra
Coimbra
Coimbra
Inside the library
Inside the library
  • University of Coimbra [5]
  • Botanical Garden
  • Machado de Castro National Museum [6]
  • Old Cathedral(Se Velha){Impressive Cathedral}
  • New Cathedral of Coimbra(Se Nova)
  • Igreja de Santa Cruz (church in Baixa)
  • Medieval Downtown (Sao Tiago;Sao Bartolomeu)
  • Jardim da Sereia - "Mermaid's Garden" aka Jardim de Santa Cruz
  • Penedo da Saudade(a beautiful garden)
  • Sister Lucia of Jesus Memorial
  • Parque Manuel Braga and Parque Verde do Mondego- City parks by the Mondego River
  • Mondego River
  • Portugal dos Pequenitos - "Portugal of the little ones"
From Portugal dos Pequenitos
From Portugal dos Pequenitos
  • Quinta das Lagrimas and its tragic story of love.
  • Sta. Clara-a-Velha Convent
  • Sta. Clara-a-Nova Convent
  • Eurostadium Cidade de Coimbra - one of Euro2004 stages
  • Museum of Science
Roman Ruins of Conimbriga
Roman Ruins of Conimbriga

Do

Have a walk up to the top of University Hill from the Mondego river (one of the three great rivers of Portugal),a gorgeous view.

Monumental Serenade
Monumental Serenade

Fado

There are two kinds of fado in Portugal: Fado from Lisbon and Fado from Coimbra, none should be missed. [Fado,nostalgic songs played by guitarr]

  • Coimbra Fado group Verdes Anos

Student life

There is always a lot going on in the student community, go and find out what's up. There are two student festivals held every year:

  • Festa das Latas
  • Queima das Fitas

Get lost

The center of Coimbra is a great place to get lost, Coimbra is a small city but it is full of interesting spots. Museums(Machado de Castro),Torre d`Anto,etc.

Buy

The medieval center of Coimbra is unusual in retaining a number of independent bookshops, boutiques, toyshops, galleries, antique and foodshops.There are several bookstores,cafes,restaurants,esplanadas. In Alta/Olivais:

  • Coimbra Shopping
  • Dolce Vita
  • Forum Coimbra

If you are even just a bit into pottery, the traditional pottery is a must.

Eat

Having a meal is not really a problem in Coimbra, since the city has a lots of restaurants, some typical, in old city (Baixa).

Budget

Three reasonably big shopping centers serve the standard fast food meals you can find everywhere. They are located in key places in the city, but not necessarily close to the tourist attractions of the city.

  • Molho de Brocolos, Level 2, Galerias Avenida, Avenida Sa da Bandeira 33/35, Coimbra, Portugal (Around to the right and at the back of the 2nd floor of Galerias Avenida), [7]. Excellent certified organic vegan food at good prices. Location isn't great tucked away at the back of the 2nd floor of a slightly run-down shopping centre, but the food and the staff totally make up for it. Only lunch as far as I know. €5-8 mains. (-8.423,40.212) edit
  • Italia, the Italian restaurant in the city park and over the river, very close to the Santa Clara bridge (very popular with tourists). You have a lot of outside tables, if the weather permits, and the food is prepared by Italian cooks. It's not very expensive either.
  • Zé Manel dos Ossos is one of the most famous restaurants in Coimbra, and for a good reason. A unique atmosphere inside the restaurant is responsible for this fame, but the food is good too. The walls of the restaurant are filled with small pieces of paper, with writings from clients. Be aware that it is quite a small space, so there's a big probability that you won't find a table.
  • Restaurante Vitória is located in the city centre and has portuguese traditional dishes suchs as "cozido à portuguesa", "bacalhau assado na brasa", "chafana". It'a a nice and quiet restaurant.
  • Salão Brasil in the "baixinha" (downtown) center. A unique room, with huge windows and very spacious, invites for a relaxed meal. The food is great with some unique dishes from around the country - like "Vitela Maronesa" and "Secretos de Porco preto". Vegetarian meals.
During the weekends there is jazz, folk and fado concerts - most of them for free. It's great to finish your meal - you have plenty of time, Portuguese are always late - and get a concert right there. Sometimes they get very crowded.
  • Taberna. If you want to try 'chanfana', one of the most famous dishes of the region, you should definitely go to this restaurant, close to the football stadium. This restaurant is specialized in a limited amount of dishes, but the quality of the food is just amazing. Go there at night, and try the 'chanfana', even though you may not have a clue about what this is. This is the place for those who really appreciate good food. Don't go too late at night, because it can be a little crowded. The restaurant is very good, and it's located in the most densely populated area of the city.
  • Toscana is another very popular Italian restaurant, close to the new bridge. The decoration is great, with a lot of pictures from Florence, Venice, Rome. The quality of the food is quite high. It's definitely not your standard pizza...
  • O Telheiro - this restaurant deserves a visit, it is unbelievable: lots of great food and cheap prices. On the down side it is Very hard to get a table(but you will get one if you wait) and it is out of the center of Coimbra.
  • Farinha de Milho in Anca, a beautiful restaurant in a beautiful setting with beautiful traditional Portuguese food. This restaurant is in an old water mill in a small village just 10 minutes drive from Coimbra.
  • Rua de Azeiteiras (a street in Baixa) has lots of nice traditional restaurants.
  • Quinta das Lágrimas hotel's restaurant may be the best restaurant in the city. It's the most expensive place in the city though... Be sure to wear your best clothes if you go there. It's a very fancy place.
  • Gengibre is modern and elegant restaurant near the Santo Antonio dos Olivais church
  • There is a lot of quality wine production in the regions surrounding Coimbra, try some "Bairrada" wine.
  • Don't miss the "licor beirao", a national sweet liquor drink born and made in the region.
  • Try the different varieties of firewater "Agua-Ardente". One is made only from grapes while the other is made from mixed fruit. Each have a unique and different after taste.

Cafes

  • Cafe de Santa Cruz is a historical cafe next to the "Igreja de Santa Cruz" (Saint Cross Church).
  • The bars in the new City Park are open all day long.

Night out

A warning, the students in this town seem to prefer Tuesday or Thursday night to go out. On weekends, this city is sleepy as many students go home to their families.

  • a Capela bar, were you can find yourself surrounded by Portuguese guitar tunes and "Fado de Coimbra" get a grip of this so traditional local culture.
  • Diligencia Bar - also typical night bar were you'll find Fado de Coimbra.
  • Salao Brazil - A restaurant but also a bar, most worthy during weekends, with - mostly - free jazz, folk and fado concerts.
  • BAAC - Academic Association Bar, entrance limited to University students.
  • Xuven - bar near Praca da Republica.
  • Procura-me - bar near Praca da Republica.
  • The bars in the "Parque Verde do Mondego" are a good place to go for a drink during Spring and Summer.
  • The bars around the "Praca da Republica" are full of the spirit of the students of the University, mainly during weekdays in Autumn, Winter and Spring.

Clubs

  • Noites Longas - Disco near Praca da Republica, alternative sounding (metal, rock).
  • Via Latina - Disco near Praca da Republica, techno and house.
  • Vinyl - One of the best clubs in Coimbra.

Sleep

Budget

There are several cheap hostels around the city center.

  • Pousada de Juventude is quite inexpensive. In June 2008 the going rate was 11 Euros a night plus 2 euros if you are don't have the card from youth hostel.
  • Residencial Domus, rua Adelino Veiga 62, [8]. They have cheaper rooms in another building just opposite - a double costs 20 euros (February 2006).  edit
  • Hotel Ibis Coimbra, Avenida Emidio Navarro n°70 Edificio Topazio, (+351)239 852 130, [9]. It's a modern looking hotel with amazing features.  edit
  • Residencia Aeminium Coimbra, center of Coimbra, tel +351 239 829426 [10]. Great location to visit Coimbra, near transportations and all main attractions. Good alternative to hotels or hostels with a good quality-price ratio.
  • Grande Hostel de Coimbra, Rua Antero Quental nº196 (Near Praça da República ( center of Coimbra)), 00351 239108212, [11]. checkin: 12 am; checkout: 11 am. Hostel with lockers, free Internet, no curfew. Dorms 18 euros and double rooms 20 per person per night. It's a big house with a big garden and a nice and friendly atmosphere! www.grandehostelcoimbra.com The Website currently does not work or is not accurate.  edit

The Pousada de Condeixa a Nova, a former palace owned by the Almadas Family, was built in the 16th century. For several years it received members of the European nobility. In the first half of 19th century, the palace was transformed in an hotel inn, later on it was an orphanage to poor children and finally an asylum homeless elderly people. Its interior design, the peacefulness of its surrounding green areas and the palace park nearby, are all excellent reasons to visit this Pousada again and again.

  • The Oslo Hotel Coimbra, center of Coimbra, tel +351 239829071.[13] Near the train station and all main attractions, the location is just right. It has recently been renewed, the staff are helpful and the view is nice.
  • Residencial Pensão Vitória,located in the city centre near the train station. Recently renewed. Tel:+351239824049, email: residencialvitoria@clix.pt, [14].

Excellent location, has good rooms with AC/good heating during the colder months. Very friendly staff. Superb kitchen.

  • Quinta das Lagrimas, tel +351 239802380.[15] The best and most expensive hotel in Coimbra. The hotel itself is an historical site.
  • Meliá Palácio da Lousã, tel +351 239990800.[16] The Meliá Palace of Lousã, the country's first boutique hotel. Located in Serra da Lousã.
  • Conimbriga, the largest Roman ruins in Portugal, about 15 km away,to the south.
  • Castle of Montemor-o-Velho, about 30km away. Have a cup of tea and don't forget tasting the local sweets: "espigas de Montemor", "pastéis de Tentúgal", "queijadas de Tentúgal" - mostly eggs and sugar in delicious and extremely-caloric combinations!
  • Figueira-da-Foz is about 40 km away. Beaches and casino.
  • Eat "Leitao" in Mealhada
  • Eat "Chanfana" in Miranda do Corvo
  • Lousã, mountain town.
  • Luso/Bucaco[spa],
  • Curia village (jardim{garden/park;lagoon/lago)
  • Penela Castle)
  • Pombal (castle)
  • Penacova, a town by the Mondego river.

Also within an hour :

Guarda,Castelo Branco,Pinhel,Porto,Lamego,Lisboa,Evora.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

COIMBRA, the capital of an administrative district formerly included in the province of Beira, Portugal; on the north bank of the river Mondego, '15 m. N.N.E. of Lisbon, on the LisbonOporto railway. Pop. (1900) 18,144. Coimbra is built for the most part on rising ground, and presents from the other side of the river a picturesque and imposing appearance; though in reality its houses have individually but little pretension, and its streets are, almost without exception, narrow and mean. It derives its present importance from being the seat of the only university in the kingdom - an institution which was originally established at Lisbon in 1291, was transferred to Coimbra in 1306, was again removed to Lisbon, and was finally fixed at Coimbra in 1527. There are five faculties - theology, law, medicine, mathematics and philosophy - with more than 1300 students. The library contains about 150,000 volumes, and the museums and laboratories are on an extensive scale. In connexion with the medical faculty there are regular hospitals; the mathematical faculty maintains an observatory from which an excellent view can be obtained of the whole valley of the Mondego; and outside the town there is a botanic garden (especially rich in the flora of Brazil), which also serves as a public promenade. Among the other educational establishments are a military college, a royal college of arts, a scientific and literary institute, and an episcopal seminary.

The city is the seat of a bishop, suffragan to the archbishop of Braga; its new cathedral, founded in 1580, is of little interest; but the old is a fine specimen of 12th-century Romanesque, and retains portions of the mosque which it replaced. The principal churches are Santa Cruz, of the 16th century, and San Salvador, founded in 1169. On the north bank of the Mondego stand the ruins of the once splendid monastery of Santa Clara, established in 1286; and on the south bank is the celebrated Quinta das lagrimas, or Villa of Tears, where Inez de Castro is believed to have been murdered in 1355. The town is supplied with water by means of an aqueduct of 20 arches. The Mondego is only navigable in flood, and the port of Figueira da Foz is 20 m. W. by S., so that the trade of Coimbra is mainly local; but there are important lamprey fisheries and manufactures of pottery, leather and hats.

A Latin inscription of the 4th century identifies Coimbra with the ancient Aeminium; while Condeixa (3623), 8 m. S.S.W., represents the ancient Conimbriga or Conembri ca. In the 9th century, however, when the bishopric of Conimbriga was removed hither, its old title was transferred to the new see, and hence arose the modern name Coimbra. The city was for a long time a Moorish stronghold, but in 1064 it was captured by Ferdinand I. of Castile and the Cid. Until 1260 it was the capital of the country, and no fewer than six kings - Sancho I. and II., Alphonso II. and III., Pedro and Ferdinand - were born within its walls. It was also the birthplace of the poet Francisco Sa de Miranda (1495-1558), and, according to one tradition, of the more famous Luiz de Camoens (1524-1580), who was a student at the university between 1537 and 1542. In 1755 Coimbra suffered considerably from the earthquake. In 18 to it was sacked by the French under Marshal Massena. In 1834 Dom Miguel made the city his headquarters; and in 1846 it was the scene of a Miguelist insurrection.

The administrative district of Coimbra coincides with the south-western part of Beira; pop. (1900) 332,168; area 1508 sq. m.


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Simple English

File:Coimbra
Coimbra downtown

Coimbra is a city in Portugal. It was the capital city of the country during the 12th century, and is home of the University of Coimbra, the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese language-speaking world.

According to the census of 2001, the city had a population of 101,069 inhabitants, and the municipality had a population of 148,443 inhabitants in a 319.4 km² land area. Over 430,000 inhabitants live in the Greater Metropolitan Area of Coimbra.

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