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William & Regina Warren, Suffern, NY, USA
Best known for its university and Romanesque cathedral consecrated in 1184, Coimbra was the first capital of Portugal in the 12th century. It goes back a long way as you’ll be able to tell if you visit the Roman settlement of Conimbriga. The city is now a World Heritage Site since 2013 and an obligatory stopping point between Lisbon and Oporto.
First port of call will be Europe’s oldest university established in 1290 – the wonderful baroque wooden panelled library gives a great sense of the status and history of the college. The student population hovers around the 20,000 mark and you’ll be amazed to see many of the students wearing a black student cape. The former palace is a must-see. The university degrees are now handed out in what was the royal bedroom! A visit to the Museo Academico is also worthwhile.
The Telegraph call it “a city with a glorious past, a poetic soul and a unique sound”. Coimbra has its own fado tradition and a visit to the Fado Centre for a performance will give you a great insight into the music – here you’ll only find men performing. The Rio Mondego is also worth exploring and where better to cross than the Belmond pedestrian bridge? The Guardian is also a fan of Coimbra and its “fairytale history… reinventing itself with imaginative new design and architecture.”
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