University of Coimbra, Portugal
University of Coimbra has the reputation of being one of the oldest universities of Europe and oldest one of Portugal! The University was first established in Lisbon, after several relocations it was firmly established in Coimbra in 1537 by John III. Today, University of Coimbra has the prestige of being one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world, and also as one of Portugal’s largest higher education and research institutions.
Tour of University of Coimbra
We stood rooted seeing the huge courtyard of the University. To the left is the entrance to the University, in the middle you can see the statue of John III with his hand on his hip. The left pic has the library.
University of Coimbra has 8 faculties. What we did not see is more than what we saw. The botanical gardens are spread out and beautiful, something left to see if I visit again. The ground floor and first floor has several classrooms. When we toured none of the classes were on, so could visit each classroom. My daughters had a great time posing as students. They sat on the benches of the classrooms, just to get a feel of the university. The best part was the tiled decorations on the walls of the classrooms!
University of Coimbra’s grand examination room is a sight to see! Old style and charming too. It is the site for university’s major academic ceremonies such as oral exams and graduations. In the original plan this was the throne room of the royal palace. The ceiling has some amazing patterns with Indo-Portuguese themes. If you are there when any of their ceremonies are on you can see the brass band at the back which punctuates the ceremonies with music, there is no clapping during the events.
Views of Town of Coimbra
We were not allowed to enter but we saw it from the balcony at the top. The ambiance is grand! The tower houses the bell which signals the start and end of classes.
We got wonderful views of the town from the viewing platform. Beyond the houses you can see the Mondego River, the longest river that flows entirely over Portugal. The third pic has the Baroque façade of the new cathedral from 16th century.
The students there have a set of academic rituals that developed hundreds of years ago. Some consider the rituals violent and crude, yet they remain an important reference in the academic experience of the students. Known as Praxe, it gives students a special sense of participation in those academic rituals.
Travel tips for Coimbra:
If you travel to University of Coimbra during months of late October, November or May you can see Parades of Rowdy Students, in funny costumes, dragging tins, it is a tradition the students follow marking the beginning and end of school year.
1st March is the day of the university. It is an occasion for a week of debates, conferences, workshops, and special events related with multiple aspects of the institution.