Sé Velha

Top choice in Coimbra

Coimbra's 12th-century cathedral is one of Portugal's finest examples of Romanesque architecture. The main portal and facade are particularly striking, especially on warm summer evenings when the golden stone seems to glow in the soft light. Its construction was financed by Portugal's first king, Afonso Henriques, and completed in 1184 at a time when the nation was still threatened by the Moors, hence its crenellated exterior and narrow, slit-like lower windows. Interior highlights include an ornate late-Gothic retable and a lovely 13th-century cloister.

Inside, the high, barrel-vaulted nave retains its main Romanesque features; side altars and well-preserved Gothic tombs of bishops are backed by bright Andalusian tiles. Over the main altar, the flamboyant gilt retable depicts the Assumption of Mary. Contrast this with the grey tones of the Renaissance Capela do Santíssimo Sacramento alongside.