Coimbra, going under the name of Aeminium in the Roman era and becoming the capital of Portugal in the 12th-13th century, has a long and rich history. The University of Coimbra, whose buildings have UNESCO World Heritage Status, was founded here in 1290 and is amongst the oldest in the world.
That university, situated on top of a hill and with the magnificent baroque Biblioteca Joanina as one of its absolute highlights, is funnily enough both the city's main attraction as well as the reason the city nowadays doesn't feel like a dusty historical city. Its students add vibrancy and ensure that the nightlife stays happening - something which is especially visible if you hit town on Tuesday or Thursday nights.
Surrounding the University is the old town (literally called "upper town") where you will find a number of old churches and winding streets, alleys and squares. Head further down the hill towards the river and you arrive at Baixa, with its shops, restaurants and bars.
Other sights you will not want to miss include the Church of São Tiago, the Santa Cruz Monastery and the Old and New Cathedrals (Se Velha and Se Nova). [Review by travelindicator]
You can find the best hotel deals in Coimbra here.
- Coimbra is a city in Portugal. It has a population of 143,396, is situated at an altitude of 62ft and the best airport to fly into is OPO (Francisco Sa Carneiro, Porto)
- The currency used in Portugal is the Euro (EUR)
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More Coimbra travel resources
We are not really sure how well most of you will digest this piece from UNESCO on why the university buildings in Coimbra have World Heritage status, but you can give it a go. More standard sources are of course Wikitravel with quite a complete article, and a good piece in the Telegraph. Then there is Go Lisbon on Coimbra (is that weird?), there is Portugal Visitor and Insight and Rough Guides. Wonderful Wanderings had a good piece, and if you like photos you must look here. Happy readings.