Porta Férrea

The University of Coimbra was founded in 1290, and is one of the oldest universities in Europe, it was the only university in Portugal until 1911. The university sits on the top of a steep hill, dominating the city scape, and in 2013 was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The 17th century Porta Férrea, which leads into the Paço das Escolas, is topped by the female figure of wisdom.


Paço das Escolas,

The Tower was built around 1730 and designed by the Roman architect António Canevari. A statue of King João III was erected in the square in 1950.

The interior walls of the Capela de São Miguel are covered with tiles, in the carpet style. The chapel organ, built in 1733, in the baroque style and decorated in gold leaf, has 2,000 pipes and is still used today for special occasions.


Capela de São Miguel

The university has a stunning library, Biblioteca Joanina, built between 1717 and 1728, in Baroque style. The 72 shelves contain 60,000 books, most of which are written in Latin. Photos are not allowed so I have copied the image below. Aside from the books, a colony of bats also occupies the library. The bats eat the insects, especially moths, that eat paper, so play a valuable role in preserving the books. Every evening the tables are covered up to protect them from bat droppings.


Biblioteca Joanina, (Photo from the university website)
Library exit

The Natural History Gallery, has a wide selection of stuffed mammals and animal skeletons in glass cabinets, I liked this skeleton of a whale lit up to provide a shadow of the bones on the ceiling. The Chemistry Laboratory is housed in an 18th century neo-classical building.


The Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro

The Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro, named after the famous sculpture and teacher Joaquim Machado de Castro, who was born in Coimbra in 1731, is listed as a National Monument. The museum building sits on a Roman cryptoportici, with exhibits from the 1st to the 17th century.


The Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro
Sé Nova

The Sé Nova (New Cathedral) was originally a Jesuit church, built over a time period of one hundred years, between 1598 and 1698.

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