Sé Velha de Coimbra (Old Cathedral of Coimbra), Coimbra

Sé Velha de Coimbra (Old Cathedral of Coimbra), Coimbra (must see)

Old Cathedral of Coimbra is the only Portugese Romanesque cathedral which has survived intact. Construction began after the Battle of Ourique in 1139. Prince Afonso Henriques had declared himself King of Portugal. He chose Coimbra to be his capital. Sancho I, second King of Portugal was crowned in the cathedral in 1185.

Building the cathedral was slow going. The basic structure was not finished until the early 13th century. The cloisters were not begun until 1218. The plans and construction of the cathedral are generally credited to a mysterious Master Robert, a French architect. The works were directly supervised by another mysterious Master Bernard.

The Old Cathedral has the look of a little fortress. It has high crenelated walls with almost no windows. A high tower in the west facade, showing Romanesque and Arabic elements, is reinforced by heavy buttresses at the corners. The north facade has a renaissance portal by sculptor Jean of Rouen.

The capitals of the Romanesque decorations feature stone carvings of birds and four-footed creatures and birds but no human figures. Most of the artisans that worked on the Old Cathedral were mozarabic. They were Christians who had lived and worked in Arab lands. They were not used to human representations, which were banned under Islam.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Coimbra. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Sé Velha de Coimbra (Old Cathedral of Coimbra) on Map

Sight Name: Sé Velha de Coimbra (Old Cathedral of Coimbra)
Sight Location: Coimbra, Portugal (See walking tours in Coimbra)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Coimbra, Portugal

Create Your Own Walk in Coimbra

Create Your Own Walk in Coimbra

Creating your own self-guided walk in Coimbra is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Coimbra Introduction Walking Tour

Coimbra Introduction Walking Tour

The ancient Roman city of Aeminium, by the Mondego River, eventually became the city of Coimbra. The modern Machado de Castro National Museum rests on the remains of a medieval bishop's palace. The palace was supported by an old cryptoporticus and Roman forum. The forum was the seed of the political and religious center of a city always reborn.

For more than 100 years Aeminium was held by...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Historic Buildings Walking Tour

Historic Buildings Walking Tour

There are many magnificent and old churches in Coimbra. The buildings of the cathedrals and churches represent the most splendid architecture of Europe: Baroque, Renaissance, Rococo. The interior of these churches are very richly ornate by the works of art: paintings of the greatest European artists, sculptures and other art. This self-guided tour will lead you to the beautiful churches and...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles