Porta Férrea


The university's main entrance is the Iron Gate, a 17th-century confection designed by architect António Tavares in 1634 on the orders of Rector D Álvaro da Costa. It stands on the same spot as the original gateway to Coimbra’s Moorish citadel and was the first major work following the acquisition of the Royal Palace by King Felipe I in 1597.

Each side of the gate features one of the university's founding monarchs: King Dinis on the outside and João III on the courtyard side. Above them stands the figure of Wisdom, the insignia of the university, while female figures represent the university's early faculties – Medicine and Law (exterior) and Theology and Canons (interior).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Coimbra attractions

1. Paço das Escolas

0.03 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…

2. Universidade de Coimbra

0.03 MILES

Coimbra's Unesco-listed university, one of the world's oldest, was originally founded in Lisbon in 1290. It was subsequently relocated several times…

3. Torre da Universidade

0.04 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,…

4. Statue of João III

0.05 MILES

Lording it over the main university square, King João III turns his back to the sweeping city views behind him and faces his great centre of learning. It…

5. Capela de São Miguel

0.05 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…

6. Prisão Acadêmica

0.06 MILES

This former prison for misbehaving students sits in the basement of the Biblioteca Joanina. Originally located beneath the Sala dos Capelos, it was later…

7. Biblioteca Joanina

0.06 MILES

The university's baroque library is Coimbra's headline sight. Named after King João V, who sponsored its construction between 1717 and 1728, it features a…

8. Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro


This great museum is a highlight of central Portugal. Housed in a 12th-century bishop's palace, it stands over the city's ancient Roman forum, remains of…