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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Coimbra Attractions – The Feudal Capital of Portugal
Joanna James Joanna James
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Coimbra Attractions – The Feudal Capital of Portugal

Coimbra's importance to the country's history is quite significant. Situated by the banks of a river, Coimbra is more famed for its ancient university but does have plenty of other attractions.


Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro

Built atop a Roman forum, the Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro is a major source of pride for the Portuguese. Some parts of the forum are still visible while you can journey down to the dark crypto portico if you are in the mood for it. The museum has a wide array of artefacts. Once you enter the museum, you begin with the sculpturing section after which you are taken on an architectural trip and so on. Featuring pieces from all over the world, the museum has an entire reconstructed chapel in it and sixteenth century terracotta pieces.


Universidade de Coimbra

Labelled a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is one of the oldest universities in the entire continent. The entire area consists of a number of sixteenth to eighteenth century structures. This university is the main reason that Coimbra became the "the city of students" and it is also the highest point in the city. Make it a point to visit the Royal Palace and make the trip to the top of the clock tower without fail too. After you buy the ticket at the visitor's area, you are free to wander through the entire compound excluding the library. You are allowed to visit the library but only in a small group every twenty minutes.


Sé Velha

Built in the twelfth century, this is one of the best cases of classic Romanesque architecture. The cathedral's main portal is known to be a stand out feature so is the façade. The cathedral was built in such a manner that it could be used as a fortress in times of danger and signs of these can be seen in the design language. For an instance, the windows in the cathedral are quite narrow and so on. The cathedral is still in use and mass takes place at 11 AM on Sundays. Sé Velha is located in the town centre, making it easy to access from any Coimbra hotel with examples like Tivoli Coimbra Hotel.


Museu da Ciência

Built in a former monastery that is hundreds of years old, the Museu da Ciência is a science museum. The building perfectly blends in modern technology with the old age surroundings. The museum houses many science displays which are done in both English and Portuguese. A new section showcases teaching apparatuses used between the seventeenth and the nineteenth century.


Convento de Santa Clara-a-Velha

Built back in the thirteenth century next to the Mondego River, it was the brainchild of revered Dona Isabel. The Gothic convent went on to be her burial ground too. However, floods caused her to be relocated elsewhere. The convent was abandoned in the seventeenth century due to persistent flooding but it was excavated in the twentieth century and was opened to the public after over a decade of restoration efforts were done. There is a museum next to the convent which displays artefacts and videos of the life the nuns lived as well as the restoration efforts.