|A view of Coimbra's University Hill as seen from the Mondego River|
Coimbra (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈkwĩbɾɐ ]) is a city in the municipality of Coimbra in Portugal. According to the 2001 Census, provided by the Portuguese Instituto Nacional de Estatística (English: National Institute of Statistics), the city proper had a population of 101,069. The city of Coimbra is one of the most important urban centres in Portugal (after the much larger cities of Lisbon and Porto), playing a central role in the northern-central littoral and interior of the country. It is the principal centre in the Centro region, the District of Coimbra and the Baixo Mondego subregion.
The trip to Portugal would not be complete without visiting its impressive churches and monasteries. While in Coimbra, Portugal, visitors should not miss the Santa Cruz Monastery, whose historical significance does not end in art and religion. The monastery also holds political significance as its scriptorium was where the propaganda machine of the first king of Portugal, King Afonso Henriques, was operated. The king’s tomb is found in the monastery. Moreover, the Santa Clara Velha Monastery is also an attraction as it is where the remains of two of the most revered queens of Portugal, Santa Clara and Ines de Castro, were temporarily laid to rest.
Santa Cruz Monastery
When visitors are overwhelmed by the weight of the city’s historical beauty, they can rest their eyes on the beauty of the city’s botanical gardens. Coimbra prides itself as being home to the largest boanical gardens not only in Portugal but also in Europe.
There is no doubt that Coimbra Portugal region has so much to offer, especially in terms of historical beauty, that visitors may not know where to start their tour. A tip for visitors of the city, though, is to begin their tour in Largo da Portagem, where the tourist information center is found.
Coimbra can be reached by bus, train or car. It is internally connected by a huge bus network, the SMTUC, and trolleybuses. By train, the city is only one hour away from Porto and 1 hour and 45 minutes away from Lisbon.