A World Heritage Site since 2013, the University of Coimbra has more than 700 years of history and experience in education, training and research.
The inspiration for Harry Potter was born here, between the "Cabra" and the black cape students. This was the first Portuguese university for several centuries.
In the University's courtyard (Palácio da Escolas) of the University you can see a breathtaking view over the city, or if you don't suffer from vertigo, you can choose to go up to the Tower (A Cabra) for a unique view.
The University of Coimbra is one of the oldest in Europe and in 2013 was considered by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. Founded in Lisbon by King D. Dinis in 1290, it was definitely transferred to Coimbra in 1537, occupying the buildings of the Royal Palace.
During the reign of King D. João V and King D. José I, the institution underwent major reforms, not only at the level of education, but also with regard to the construction of new buildings, of Baroque and neoclassic style. The justification for this recognition by UNESCO is that this institution has played a very important role in the history of the country because it has been affirmed as a centre of production and transmission of knowledge and culture, in a geographic area that encompasses four continents, corresponding to the former Portuguese Empire; because the university has crossed significant periods in the history of architecture, art, the Portuguese geographic and cultural space, and its history is closely related to the reforms in the ideological, pedagogical and cultural heritage, representing a long cultural genesis; finally, because the university plays a unique role in the constitution and unity of the Portuguese language, consecrating itself as an important literary workshop and centre for the diffusion of new ideas, being attended by several writers and disseminators of language and culture.
Paço Das Escolas [School Palace]
Iconic place of Coimbra, consisting of various structures of great beauty. Classified as a World Heritage site since 2013.
Porta Férrea [The Iron Gate]
Entrance of the former Royal Palace to which were added, in 1634, two portals with allegorical sculptures of the former faculties (medicine, laws, theology and canons), the founding King and the King who permanently establishes the General Studies in Coimbra (King D. Dinis and King D. João III) and the Wisdom, insignia of the institution.
Monumento a D. João iii [Monument to King João Iii]
Monumental statue, inaugurated in 1948, representing the monarch. It conveys hieratism and some formal rigidity, framing itself in the historicist and modernizing character of the official ideology of the Estado Novo [an authoritarian regime that had been in force between 1933 and 1974], followed by Francisco Franco, his author, considered one of the protagonists of the official regime’s statute.
A large colonnade, from the late 18th century, whose name recalls the old rule that prohibited the use of any language other than Latin.
Sala dos Capelos [Great Hall of Acts]
Ancient Throne Room of the Royal Palace, which was adapted in the 17th century to receive the most important acts of academic life: solemn opening of the school year, doctoral exams, imposition of insignia, investiture of Rectors, among others.
Sala dos Archeiros [Armory Room]
Room adapted, during the period of the Pombaline Reform [a reform that promoted the experimental teaching of sciences], to keep the weapons of the Royal Academic Guard.
Sala do Exame Privado [Private Examination Room]
Former Royal Chamber remodelled in the early 18th century. Its name recalls the time when some oral exams were performed behind closed doors.
Gerais [General Studies]
Occupying part of the former Queen’s Wing, the classic-style, two-storey courtyard, around which the classrooms of the general studies were disposed, results from remodelling works, with the upper floor being executed by the masters of works Manuel Alves Macamboa and José de Carvalho.
Torre [University Tower]
Symbol of the University and of the city itself, it was built during the 18th century, replacing the previous one, designed by João de Ruão (16th century). The Italian architect who projected the work, António Cannevari, adds to it baroque aspects that are quite italianate. The construction was overseen by the portuguese Gaspar Ferreira.
There is a small balcony at the top, with four clocks below it (one on each side), followed by four bells that govern the academic life: the Cabra [goat] of 1741, the Cabrão [buck] of 1824, the Bolão [Big Ball] of 1561 and the Quartos [quarters].
Escadas De Minerva [Minerva Stairs]
Due to the reforms the building was subjected to, around 1724, Gaspar Ferreira was given the task of recreating the communication ladders between the University and the public street. The work is a testimony that the whole building is dedicated to Sapience: crowning the arch of the staircase arises the baroque sculpture, evocative of Sapience, by the Friar Cipriano da Cruz.
Capela de São Miguel [Chapel of Saint Michael]
Former oratory of the Royal Palace, dating from the 12th century, it was subject of major enlargement construction works in the Manueline period (reign of King D. Manuel I), projected by Marcos Pires and Diogo de Castilho. The port archway is an allegory to the political ideology of King D. Manuel I – he is king by divine right!
Casa da Livraria | Biblioteca Joanina [Book House | Joanina Library]
A unique and internationally recognised work commonly known as the Joanina Library, since it was made during the reign of King D. João V, whose large portrait by Dominico Duprá occupies the top of the library.
Prisão Académica [Academic Prision]
Established in 1593, in the north wing of the building, former royal prison, ordered to be built by King D. João I, was transferred in 1773 to the Book House infrastructure.
Colégio De São Pedro [College Of Saint Peter]
Founded in 1574 by King D. Sebastião, in order to receive graduates in preparation for university teaching. It occupied the former ward of the ladies and the officers, and after the extinction of the religious orders it was handed over to the University, for accommodation of the Royal Family and use by the rectors.