Historical Churches Walking Tour (Self Guided), Coimbra

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 cathedrals of Coimbra.
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Historical Churches Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Historical Churches Walking Tour
Guide Location: Portugal » Coimbra (See other walking tours in Coimbra)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.5 Km or 2.8 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Church of Santa Justa
  • Church of Nossa Senhora de Graça
  • Santa Cruz Monastery
  • New Cathedral of Coimbra
  • Old Cathedral of Coimbra
  • Church of St. Bartholomew
  • Monastery of Santa Clara a Nova
  • Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha
Church of Santa Justa

1) Church of Santa Justa

Church of Santa Justa was constructed in the eighteenth century on the grounds of an earlier church that was destroyed by floods. There is a large staircase leading to the church and two bell towers. You will see there the gilded altarpiece of the chapel. The interior houses valuable pieces: paintings, images and liturgical items. This is also the church that is one of the most visited by tourists in Coimbra and is a monumental church of the city.
Church of Nossa Senhora de Graça

2) Church of Nossa Senhora de Graça

The Church of Nossa Senhora de Graça or the Church of Our Lady of Grace was founded in 1543. The portal of the main facade is topped by a niche with an image of the Virgin and Child. The interior has a single nave. Noteworthy is the altarpiece of the chapel from the seventeenth century. This church is the first example of Renaissance architecture in Coimbra, and its design influenced many other buildings. The interior is decorated Mannerist and Baroque. This church is now a national monument of Portugal.
Santa Cruz Monastery

3) Santa Cruz Monastery (must see)

The Santa Cruz Monastery is a National Monument in Coimbra. Because the first two kings of Portugal are buried in the church it was granted the status of National Pantheon. Founded in 1131 outside the protecting walls of Coimbra, the Santa Cruz Monastery was the most important monastic house during the early days of the Portuguese monarchy. St. Theotonius founded this community of canons regular and served as their first prior. The monastery and church were erected between 1132 and 1223. The monastery was granted numerous papal privileges and royal grants, which allowed the accumulation of considerable wealth, at the same time as it consolidated its position on the politico-institutional and cultural scene. Its school, with its vast library, was highly respected in medieval times and was a meeting point for the intellectual and power elites. Its scriptorium was used for the consolidation of royal power by King Afonso Henriques, thus it was not considered strange that he decided to be buried there.
Sight description based on wikipedia
New Cathedral of Coimbra

4) New Cathedral of Coimbra (must see)

The New Cathedral of Coimbra (Portuguese: Sé Nova de Coimbra) is the current bishopric seat of the city of Coimbra. It is located near the historical University of Coimbra in the upper part of the town (Alta de Coimbra). The New Cathedral was, originally, the church of the Jesuit Formation house of Coimbra, established in the city in 1543. In 1759, the Jesuit Order was banned from Portugal by the Marquis of Pombal, Prime-Minister of King José I. In 1772, the bishopric seat was transferred from the old Romanesque Cathedral of the city to the vacant, spacious and more modern Jesuit church.

The church architecture was influential in the Portuguese colonial world. The niches of the façade of the New Cathedral carry statues of four Jesuit saints. The Baroque decoration of the upper part of the façade, finished in the beginning of the 18th century, contrasts with the lower part, which follows a rigid Mannerist style. The church has two bell towers located just behind the main façade and a dome over the crossing. The interior, covered with barrel vaulting, has one nave with several lateral chapels and a transept with a dome and cupola. Both transept arms and the main chapel of the apse are decorated with huge, magnificent gilt wood altarpieces built between the 17th and 18th centuries which are fine examples of the so-called "national" Portuguese artarpiece style. The lateral chapels of the nave have altarpieces in Mannerist and Baroque styles.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Old Cathedral of Coimbra

5) Old Cathedral of Coimbra (must see)

The Old Cathedral of Coimbra (Portuguese: Sé Velha de Coimbra) is one of the most important Romanesque Roman Catholic buildings in Portugal. Construction of the Sé Velha began some time after the Battle of Ourique (1139), when Count Afonso Henriques declared himself King of Portugal and chose Coimbra as capital. The first Count of Coimbra, the mozarab Sisnando Davides, is buried in the cathedral.

Coimbra Cathedral is the only one of the Portuguese Romanesque cathedrals from the Reconquista times to have survived relatively intact up to the present. From the Gothic era (13th-14th centuries) there are several tombs with laying statues along the lateral aisles, some very much eroded. The most remarkable is that of Lady Vataça Lascaris (or Betaça), a Byzantine that came to Portugal in the beginning of the 14th century together with Elizabeth of Aragon, who was to marry King Dinis I. Her tomb carries the symbol of the Byzantine Empire: a two-headed eagle.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Church of St. Bartholomew

6) Church of St. Bartholomew

The Church of St. Bartholomew is located on the corner of Commerce Square in the centre of Coimbra. The building of the church is very ancient and dates back to the 10th century. The original church was rebuilt in the 12th century in Romanesque style, but now nothing remains of this old building as it was rebuilt in the 18th century. It represents a very simple Baroque style. There is a portal and two bell towers. The interior consists of a nave and a chapel, where one can observe an altarpiece of gild and marble, typical of 18th century Coimbra and similar to the main altar of the Monastery of Santa Cruz. The altarpiece framed painting, signed by the Italian painter Pascal Parente, represents the Martyr Bartholomew.
Monastery of Santa Clara a Nova

7) Monastery of Santa Clara a Nova (must see)

The Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova is a monastery in Coimbra. It was built to replace the mediaeval Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha, located nearby, which at the time was prone to frequent flooding by the waters of the Mondego river. The monastery was built in the 17th and 18th centuries and is classified as a National Monument. It is located in the Santa Clara parish.

The feminine Monastery of Santa Clara of Coimbra was founded in the early 14th century near the river Mondego by Queen Elizabeth, wife of King Dinis I. The queen was greatly admired during and after her life for her pious and generous nature, and was canonised in the 17th century. Through the centuries, the church and monastic buildings were repeatedly flooded by the Mondego. In the 17th century, under the rule of King John IV, it was decided that a new monastery was to be built for the religious community. Construction works began in 1649, and the church was finished by 1696. All nuns as well as the Gothic tombs of Queen Elizabeth and other royal princesses were transferred to the new monastery, thereby called "Santa Clara-a-Nova" (Saint Clare-the-New).

The project of the monastery was entrusted to Father João Turriano, a benedictine monk and royal engineer, who conceived the ensemble in the simple Mannerist style of 17th century Portugal. Construction works were led by royal architect Mateus do Couto. The church, consecrated in 1696, is of rectangular floor plan, has a single-aisled nave and lacks a transept. The interior is illuminated by a series of windows (clerestory) located on the second storey of the nave.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha

8) Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha (must see)

Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha is an old ruined church in Coimbra. It was constructed in the 14th century and tourists visit its ruins. What remained from the monastery is worth seeing today. These are well preserved Gothic buildings and the yard of the monastery. The monastery was abandoned because of frequent floods from the river, as it stands on the left bank of the Mondego river. The building of the church was restored and is now one of the most visited sights in Coimbra. The nave roof is covered with stone, which is unusual for churches in Portugal, as they are usually covered with wood. It is illuminated by mullioned windows in Gothic style and rose windows. You will see the remnants of a Gothic fountain with a circular basin in the yard. This church is similar to the great Monastery Alcobaça.

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 old capital of Portugal, Coimbra is a riverfront city rich in history and architecture. Home to the historic University of Coimbra, many of the local landmarks are in one way or another associated with it. To see these and other prominent sights of Coimbra, follow this orientation walk and enjoy!

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
North of Coimbra Walking Tour

North of Coimbra Walking Tour

A walk through the northern part of Coimbra offers diverse attractions such as architectural sights, a unique cafe, art gallery and a great shopping experience. You can see some old, beautiful churches and palaces. This self-guided tour will lead you to the attractions found in the north of Coimbra.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Museums Walking Tour

Museums Walking Tour

Coimbra is a very old city with a rich past and history. The oldest university in Europe was established here and that is why there are several museums in the city that are related to science. The scientific museums are of great importance there and display rare collections. Take this self-guided tour to visit the most popular museums in Coimbra.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles