"A Portuguese Gem" Coimbra by rexvaughan
Coimbra Travel Guide: 313 reviews and 746 photos
Coimbra, like many old cities in Europe, boasts an impressive history much of which is preserved and used but is also there to amaze and delight people like me. Both Spain and Portugal have a long and rich history in the use of tiles and you can almost become blase about them as they are at every turn. However, they do bear closer examination as they are used in such varied ways and places. Today it is a relatively small city with a population of about 150,000 but in the 12th and 13th Centuries was the capital of Portugal. It's checkered history includes it taking the place of the Roman city of Conimbriga a few miles away. Conimbriga had been destroyed by Germanic invaders. The Moors occupied the city for over 300 years until the reconquest in 1064. Probably one of the most important institutions in the city is the University which boasts about 23,000 students and is one of the oldest in Europe
The suburban sprawl around Coimbra probably brings the population to about half a million, but the places of interest are all pretty much in the old center of town. One of the mistakes I made in Coimbra was trying to get around by automobile. If you drive to the city, park and leave the car. It is a very walkable, though hilly, city and there are also some great public transportation options.
The center of the city sort of starts just as you cross the Santa Clara Bridge over the Mondego River. There has been a bridge here since Roman times and it leads almost directly to the "Portagem" or tollgate. This is a small but lovely square and has the TI right there as well as some good places for a snack or drink. A pedestrian only street, Rua Ferreira Borges, is lined with all kinds of shops and leads to the Praca 8 de Maio and the wonderful Church of Santa Cruz.
- Pros:Easy to walk around in
- Cons:Some streets are not well marked
- In a nutshell:Good food, good fado, easy walking
The Largo da Portagem seems to be the hub of the old city and from it you have easy access to the main pedestrian way,... more travel advice
Several places in Spain and Portugal serve the little custard tarts and all we tried were quite tasty. The best were in... more travel advice
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