Coímbra Old University

Visit the Universidade Velha or Velha University, one of the most visited places in Coímbra, Portugal.

Coímbra Old University
Coímbra Old University
© Celestino Manuel

The Old University of Coímbra (Universidade Velha de Coímbra) was established in 1537 in the buildings of the old Real Paço de Coímbra (Royal Palace), the former royal Portuguese residence. These buildings were restored and transformed into “Paço dos Estudos”. In fact, this Portuguese university was founded in 1290 by the King Dinis in Lisbon, although it was moved to Coímbra in 1537 by initiative of João III. Lisbon did not become a university district until 1911, and, before that, there was no other university in the country but Coímbra.

 

From the handrails surrounding the Pátio Central (Central Courtyard), also known as Pátio das Escolas Courtyard, where it is located the statue of D. João III, you will have magnificent views of the city neighbourhoods and the Mondego River, which traces in this stretch of its course an elegant wide curve edged by the thick vegetation of the riverbank. Furthermore, it is worth noticing the entrance door to the enclosure, since it is of Manueline style, and known as Porta Férrea Door.

On the corner of the Pátio das Escolas Courtyard raises a majestic tower which was built between 1728 and 1733, a work of the Italian architect António Canevari. This tower is 14 metres tall, and hosts the bells marking the functioning of the university.

At the right of the Porta Férrea Door is located the main building, of Manueline style, known as University Palace. To it, it was added a beautiful colonnade known as Via Latina built in the 18th century to use as walkway between the different rooms.

On the inside of the palace it is worth visiting some of the noble rooms, as the Sala dos Capelos Room or the Sala do Exame Privado Room.

After abandoning the former royal rooms you will reach the building of the estudos Gerais, which hosts the Law School. You have to cross this building to get to a huge balcony from where you will enjoy one of the best views of Coímbra.

It is also a good idea to make a visit to the Capela de São Miguel Chapel, from the 14th century and notable for the main wooden-carved retable, the Baroque organ dating from 1733 and a sculpture of Santa Catarina, students’ patron

To finish the visit to the Universidade Velha you have to visit the Biblioteca Joanina Library, of Baroque style, raised up in 1717 during the reign of João V. Its inside is made of three rooms linked by arches. The walls are full of two floor shelves, in exotic golden and polychromed wood, and host nearly 250,000 volumes.

More information:

Location:

Coímbra, Portugal.

Price:

General entry: 9€. (Sala dos Capelos, Sala do Exame Privado, Sala das Armas, Biblioteca Joanina Library, Intermediate Floor and Academic Prisão)
Students under 26 years old: 5,50€.
Senior ticket, over 65 years old: 7€.
Younger than 13 years old: Free entry.
Guided tour: 15€.

Opening Hours:

From the 14h April to the 15th October:
From 9h00 to 19h30.

From the 16th October to the 15th March:
From 9h30 to 13h00 and from 14h00 to 17h30.

How to arrive:

Bus: 1A, 34, 103.

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