University of Coimbra Courtyard, Coimbra

University of Coimbra Courtyard, Coimbra (must see)

Coimbra University was founded in 1290 by King Dinis. The university moved fitfully between Lisbon and Coimbra until 1537. Then, in the reign of John III, it moved permanently to Coimbra. It was housed in the Alcacova Palace. The palace was subsequently purchased from the Royal Family in 1597.

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 Apple App Store or Google Play Store. 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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University of Coimbra Courtyard on Map

Sight Name: University of Coimbra Courtyard
Sight Location: Coimbra, Portugal (See walking tours in Coimbra)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
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.
Historic Buildings Walking Tour

Historic Buildings Walking Tour

Amid the array of historic buildings narrating the cultural and architectural heritage of Coimbra, Portugal, there are both secular structures and great churches, dating back centuries. Apart from their historical value, these buildings exemplify the resplendent European architecture of the past, featuring Baroque, Renaissance, Rococo, and other styles. Some of them are richly decorated on the...  view more

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