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Universidade de Coimbra

Top choice in Coimbra

Coimbra's Unesco-listed university, one of the world's oldest, was originally founded in Lisbon in 1290. It was subsequently relocated several times before being permanently established in Coimbra in 1537. Its showpiece centre is the Pátio das Escolas, a vast courtyard surrounded by majestic 16th- to 18th-century buildings. These include the Paço das Escolas, Torre da Universidade, Prisão Acadêmica, Capela de São Miguel and Biblioteca Joanina.

Admission tickets come in two forms: one giving access to all university buildings (except the Torre) and the Museu da Ciência, and a second one which does not include the Biblioteca Joanina. Buy them at the office outside Porta Férrea. Note also that library visits are in groups at set times.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Coimbra attractions

1. Statue of João III

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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…

2. Capela de São Miguel

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

3. Prisão Acadêmica

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

4. Biblioteca Joanina

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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…

5. Porta Férrea

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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…

6. Torre da Universidade

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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

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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. Sé Velha

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