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UNESCO World Heritage tour of the University of Coimbra

The University of Coimbra is listed as UNESCO World Heritage site since June 2013, following the unanimous decision of the World Heritage Committee, gathered in Phnom Pehn in Cambodia.
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This asset includes highly important buildings, erected in different chronological periods, over an area of 81,5 ha. There are 4 main poles: the colleges of Rua da Sofia, the Upper-town colleges, the group of buildings that resulted from the Marquis de Pombal reform and the group of buildings of the Estado Novo period.

The tour

Department of Mathematics | April 17th Room

The opening of the building of the Department of Mathematics took place on April 17th 1969, the date that marks the beginning of the 1969 academic crisis, a public movement of opposition to the Salazar regime.

Alberto Martins, the president of the Academic Association of Coimbra was prevented from making a speech during the official opening session, which led to a general ovation by the students.

Department of Mathematics | Scientific Council Room

Worth highlighting in this room is the tapestry made by Rogério Ribeiro in the Tapestry Manufacture of Portalegre (1969). The theme is “Technical Progress”, displaying a daring representation, inspired by the model of the Vitruvian man, in a plastic abstract language that was very polemical by that time.

Department of Mathematics | Main Hall

The entry hall was decorated in the lateral walls with two frescoes: one dedicated to “Portuguese Maths during the Portuguese Discoveries” and one on “Mathematics from the Chaldeans and Egyptians to the present day”, painted by Almada Negreiros, according to the iconograhic programme defined by José Bayolo Pacheco de Amorim.

Initially, these frescoes were supposed to cover an area of ​​50 square meters, but the painter found it hard to translate his whole programme in to such area and he had to expand the work to 70 square meters. These frescoes were painted by the students of Brotero School, under the order of the aging painter.

Praça D. Dinis

This square is one of the fundamental elements of the structure under the plan for the University City. Here stood formerly the castle of the city , devastated during the works promoted by the Marquis of Pombal , in the 70s of the eighteenth century , to erect there a modern and ambitious Astronomical Observatory.

This construction began but was eventually abandoned and the Observatory was built in the south top of Paço das Escolas. On the south facade of the 16th century College of St. Jerome it is still possible to observe the marks of an arch built to enhance the facade of the church , severely affected by the 1755 earthquake , and that connected the castle and later , the Observatory built there.

The arch was destroyed during the building campaigns of University City. During the archaeological excavations carried out in 2008 – studies of preventive archaeology for the design of underground parking – the basement of the keep of the castle tower was (re)found , located substantially beneath the statue of King Dinis .

Faculty of Medicine

Just like the other buildings erected on the campus , the Faculty of Medicine integrates various artistic manifestations. In both portals of the main facade (south) of the building , facing the street Rua Larga, we highlight the twelve busts of Euclid Vaz representing some of the personalities that contributed to the development of Portuguese medicine and medical assistance: D. Mendo Dias, Pedro Hispano, D. Dinis, D. Leonor, Garcia da Orta e D. João III, no da esquerda, Amado Lusitano, S. João de Deus, o Marquês de Pombal, José Correia Picanço, António Augusto da Costa Simões an António Sena, on the right side.

The various gates were also ornamented with small bronzes, alluding to the history of the college itself, signed by Vasco Pereira da Conceição, according to the original design of Feliciano Augusto da Cunha Guimarães . On the west side stands the sculpture group signed by Leopoldo de Almeida , founded in 1956 , with the representation of the allegorical figure of Medicine, flanked by Hippocrates and Galen.

Once inside, lies in the west atrium the bas-relief of Vasco Pereira da Conceição allusive to the treatment of patients, while in the east side you can see the fresco by Portela Júnior, dedicated to the history of medicine, which includes some of Coimbra’s leading personalities.

Faculty of Letters | Councils’ Room

The tapestry of the council chamber was made by Guilherme Camarinha (1955) in the Tapestry Manufacture of Portalegre.

Faculty of Letters | Theatre Paulo Quintela

Integrated in the building of the Faculty of Letters, the theater is a volume that partially occupies the courtyard. The room has a capacity of approximately 260 seats. Paulo Quintela was the first director of the Students’ Theatre of the University of Coimbra ( TEUC ), having assumed that role for 30 years.

Architects & date of beginning of construction

– University Archive : Alberto José Pessoa , 1943
– Faculty of Letters : Alberto José Pessoa, 1945
– Faculty of Medicine: Lucínio Guia da Cruz 1951
– Academic Association of Coimbra : Alberto Pessoa and José João Abel Manta , 1954
– Main Library : Alberto José Pessoa , 1956
– Department of Mathematics : Lucínio Guia da Cruz, 1964
Departments of Chemistry and Physics : Lucínio Guia da Cruz 1966

For more information on other key buildings included in the World Heritage Area, please click on the following link:

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