If “Coimbra is a lesson”, as the popular fado song says, Coimbra is firstly a lesson of Portuguese History.Here is the grave of Kings Afonso Henriques and Sancho I, the first Portuguese Kings and, all over the city, you will discover landmarks left by those who built the nation, whether they are the outbuildings of the University, created by King D. Dinis, or the monuments you should mandatorily visit, of which the contributions of King John III, the Marquis of Pombal and King Manuel stand out. From the magnificent scale of the Joanine Library to the symbolism of the Santa Cruz convent, the old capital of the Kingdom is full of heritage from the past.
It is, without a doubt, a lesson on tradition. There is no other Portuguese city like Coimbra in what comes to academic tradition which is present in the students’ everyday life. At Queima das Fitas, the students celebrate the most anticipated event of the year. The bells which have been regulating academic life since the 16th century still toll in the University Tower, reminding us that this is, above all, a university city.
And because there’s nothing as passionate as youth, Coimbra is also a lesson in romance. It is the city of poets and fado, where in every corner lived a great author and it is also the land of Inês de Castro and King Peter, two historical figures who lived the most famous and probably the most tragic love story in Portuguese History. To discover Quinta das Lágrimas (The Farm of Tears), soak your feet in the Mondego River and cross the Peter e Inês Bridge or to explore the exuberant Buçaco wood is to discover the “Portuguese Capital of Love”.
Apart from the “Beautiful Inês” narrative, you can also discover the life of another woman closely linked with Coimbra, Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, the patron of the city and founder of the Santa Clara Monastery, the devoted wife of King D. Dinis played an important role in politics in her time and helped keeping the peace of the realm. The tale of the Saint Queen and the Miracle of the Roses perpetuated her image as a kind sovereign in popular devotion and she is still a key figure in the History and life of Coimbra.
But the identity of the city is also built by men and women today who bring old streets to life by appreciating the food and wine of the area or by enjoying the medicinal waters of Luso or Cúria. Follow their example. Come and discover Portugal in Coimbra and learn, among other things, how to say “saudade”.