Arco de Almedina


This heavy-duty Moorish gateway, just off the main shopping drag, leads through to Coimbra's upper town. Follow through the arch and head up the steep stairs known as the Rua Quebra-Costas ('Backbreaker') and you'll find yourself in the heart of the city's historic core. This labyrinthine quarter of tightly-packed houses and dark cobbled lanes was once a Moorish stronghold and for a century served as the seat of Portugal's kings.

Local legend says it was the 19th-century writer Almeida Garrett who persuaded the mayor to install the stairs.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Coimbra attractions

2. Palácio de Sub Ripas

0.05 MILES

The early-16th-century Palácio de Sub Ripas, now home to the university's Instituto de Arqueologia, is a striking example of 16th-century architecture. It…

4. Sé Velha


Coimbra's 12th-century cathedral is one of Portugal's finest examples of Romanesque architecture. The main portal and facade are particularly striking,…

5. Igreja de Santa Cruz

0.15 MILES

Overlooking the graceful Praça 8 de Maio, this is one of Coimbra's oldest churches, dating to the 12th century. Little remains of the original Romanesque…

6. Torre da Universidade

0.15 MILES

Another of the university's signature landmarks, this 18th-century tower – and its clock and bells – regulates academic life. Built between 1728 and 1733,…

7. Paço das Escolas

0.16 MILES

Housed in a former royal palace, this is the historic heart of the university, where traditional academic ceremonies are still held. The main ceremonial…

8. Capela de São Miguel

0.17 MILES

Part of the main university complex, this ornate 16th-century chapel has a brightly painted ceiling, lavish tilework, Manueline features and a gilded 18th…