Coimbra history, culture and religion

Coimbra was once the capital of Portugal (1139-1250). The university (founded in Lisbon in 1290) was transferred to Coimbra in 1308 and moved into the royal palace, where we can still visit the famous library. Besides visiting the old historical buildings, such as the old and new cathedral, museums and palaces, we can also enjoy Coimbras modern architecture, like the facade of Eiffel in the main shopping street, and the pavilhao of the expo 2000 in Hannover, of the architect Sisa Vieira.

Casa Pombal Portuguese tiles
Casa Pombal detail breakfast room


During the summer season there are a lot of street events organised in the citycentre. There are weekly ‘fado’ concerts in the old historical section. Every year an international Jazz festival takes place as well as an international dance festival. There is the week of Classical music and Opera performances on the Patio of the old university. There have also been some famous music groups that have performed in the football stadium (Rolling Stones 2003).


Every 2 years, in july, a big religious event takes place, named Rainha Santa. (Queen Isabel of Aragon, who died 1336 and became holy in 1625, is also patroness of Coimbra). On this day the city has a huge procession and a firework display takes place in the afternoon and evening.

Casa Pombal hall
Casa Pombal view

University city

As Coimbra ia a university city, the students parties in May and October are a ‘must’ for those who like modern music and rockconcerts.

Things to do

Every year there are more and more bars and terraces being opened, even more so since 2004, with the year of the European football, where bars, restaurants and terraces have opened in the park, next to the Mondego river.