University of Coimbra Ilha

3004-531 Coimbra, Portugal

About 83 km north of Fatima (203 km north of Lisbon), you’ll find Coimbra University - one of Europe’s first universities. History states that Coimbra University was founded in1290 . It was first situated in Lisbon, then Coimbra several times depending on where the King wanted it.( From the 12th c - 13th c, Coimbra was the capital of Portugal). Since 1534, the city of Coimbra has been the University city. Coimbra is beautifully maintained, especially its original structures. There you find history around every corner. The Baroque Library is impressive and houses a collection of about 250,000 books from the 12th - 19th c. The library was built in the 18th c. The tower is the symbol of the University. It is equipped with a clock and bells. A tour guide stated that the clock sets the pace of the school. Don’t miss St. Michael’s Chapel with its Baroque organ (1733) and 18th c blue & white tiles. The burning of the ribbons ritual at year’s end is something to see. You’ll need an entire day to peruse the University and its historic sites. In the town itself there are several cafes for a meal. Near-by: Portugal dos Pequeninos (Children’s Portugal), Monastery of Santa Cruz (!st King’s tomb), Santa Clara a Nova (sliver tomb of St. Isabella, King Dinis’ wife). Hotel recommendation: Quinta das Lagrimas - a small deluxe hotel. The story of King Pedro I and his love, Ines who was murdered by orders of Pedro’s father, the King is the history of this property. I loved this one.

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