Explore the remains of an ancient Roman city once named Conimbriga – now known as Coimbra. These are among the best Roman ruins in the Iberian Peninsula, and in these remains you can trace the life of the Romans. The city’s walls are largely intact, and the mosaic floors and foundations of many houses and public buildings remain. In the baths you can view the network of stone heating ducts beneath the now missing floors. There are ruins of temples, a forum, patrician houses, water conduits, and drains. Before we reach Coimbra, we stop in the south bank of Mondego river, near Saint Clara convent, at the top of the hill, for a marvellous view of the city. Bring a camera!
Famous for its university, ceramics and fado music, Coimbra is a quaint town offering winding cobblestone alleys, commercial plazas and hilltop views overlooking the Rio Mondego. Coimbra, a wonderful mix of centuries of culture, is one of Portugal’s major historic capitals and is divided in the upper part – the Episcopal and University section – and lower part near the river – the shopping district.
Among many other historic buildings worth a visit we have:
- The two cathedrals – namely the Romanesque Se Velha (imposing, castle-like structure, one of the most important Romanesque Roman Catholic buildings in Portugal) and the new cathedral (Se Nova from the XVI century).
- The 12th century Almedina Arch (just off the Rua Ferreira Borges, the gateway to the Upper town)
- the historic church of Santa Cruz (where the two first Portuguese kings are buried, being the most important monastic house during the first times of the Portuguese monarchy).
The Museu Nacional Machado de Castro (across from Se Nova, housing sculptures from the 14th and 16 centuries, tapestries, Roman artifacts and other treasures).
Coimbra is known for its love of pork, enjoy a full menu at one of the nearby restaurants – your guide will suggest a variety of top-notch eateries for a lunch or coffee break. Try the ‘Chanfana’, a Coimbra special dish that is popular throughout the university town. This is a casserole of kid or lamb meat stewed in red wine. The local cakes, called Santa Claras (delicious cream-filled pastries) are also a local delicacy.