"A Portuguese Gem" Coimbra by rexvaughan

Coimbra Travel Guide: 305 reviews and 732 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 and Cons
  • Pros:Easy to walk around in
  • Cons:Some streets are not well marked
  • In a nutshell:Good food, good fado, easy walking
  • Last visit to Coimbra: Sep 2006
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (14)

Comments (3)

  • magor65's Profile Photo
    Jan 23, 2007 at 1:10 PM

    Well done! Very interesting useful tips and great pictures. St Michael's chapel does look beautiful.

  • icunme's Profile Photo
    Nov 4, 2006 at 1:39 PM

    I figured you would have news on Portugal - great photos and detail. Ciao, Carol

  • hojasdehierba's Profile Photo
    Oct 31, 2006 at 12:01 PM

    I visited Coimbra when I was a teenager and loved it... The custard tarts are tipically portuguese, and you can only find them in Spain as a "copy", but they are delicioussss!!! Very good information and writing and beautiful pics. Good work!


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