University of Coimbra Courtyard, Coimbra (must see)
The library was a gift of King John V. King John could afford it. Gold from Brazil made him the richest king in the world. The library holds 200,000 or more books. In the library are tiny bats that feed on bookworms at night. Bat guano is swept up in the morning by library staff.
The University's crenelated clock tower is 112 feet high. It was formerly used for astronomical observations. It is roofless. Visitors are permitted at the top to get a great view of the city. The clock tower has two bells. One, called "the Goat", rings at 6 pm. The second, called "the Bitch" rings at 7:30 am, waking students for class.
Access to the University courtyard is through the Porta Ferrea ("Iron Gate"), the old gate to the palace. Before entering, one will encounter a stone pavement portrait of the goddess Minerva. She is the goddess of wisdom, medicine, commerce, artisanship, poetry and art. She looks serene, guarding piles of books. She doesn't need bats.
The courtyard, known as Courtyard of Schools, is a vast open area surrounded by buildings of the old campus. There is a statue of King John III. His back is turned to the city. He faces the university. The statues in the courtyard include King Dinis I and Denosthenes offering some words, silently.
Not all parts of the University are open to the public. No more than 60 people are allowed to visit at a time.
Why you should visit
The square offers great views of the city below and access to the original historic buildings, such as the Joanina Library, the Royal Palace, the Chapel and the great Bell Tower.
Some fees may be charged to visit the buildings. Make tour reservations early. If you climb the tower wear strong shoes.
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.
University of Coimbra Courtyard on Map
Walking Tours in Coimbra, Portugal
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