With centuries-old ties to culture, Coimbra is the largest city in central Portugal.
The river Mondego, monuments, the university and Fado. These are the main attractions in Coimbra, one of the oldest cities in Portugal and which was once the capital of the country from the beginning of the 10th century until 1260.
It was during this period that the city began to grow from an urban perspective. Coimbra was divided into a high city – the richest and most aristocratic part (also known as Almedina) and the lower city, where the lower and poorer classes lived.
Much of the city’s life revolves around the University of Coimbra, the oldest in Portugal. This city is also the home of Coimbrão, which varies from popular music to Fado de Coimbra and, at the same time, includes music of protest and, of course, traditional academic serenades.
Coimbra breathes culture and through a walk through the city you will immediately see the importance of history in the development of the city. Examples? The two cathedrals in Coimbra – Sé Nova, from the eighteenth century, and the Old Cathedral, dating back to the twelfth century; The Santa-Clara-a-Velha, submerged under the waters of the Mondego river for more than three centuries and reopened to the public in 2009; The Arco and Torre de Almedina and Casa do Bispo, where you can find the Machado de Castro National Museum, one of the most interesting museums in Portugal.
Coimbra is a good starting point for discovering other places in the region. Travel to Mealhada and taste the local specialty, the piglet cooked in a wood-fired oven or head to the beaches of Figueira da Foz, city where the river Mondego meets the sea. Or visit the sunny town of Penela or the castle at Montemor-o-Velho, an important military and strategic fortress in the Middle Ages.