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Things to do


They have an amazing retirement plan for  pensioners who want to move to Portugal. Portugal is one of my favourite countries on the planet, and my mother is my favourtite person so of course I put her in my favourite country to retire! Portugal! You can learn more about retirement schemes and portugal  in our next page, but here is some fun facts about Coimbra a lovely small town full of life and wonder.


Certainly! Coimbra is a historic city in central Portugal, known for its ancient university and rich cultural heritage. Here are 20 things you can do in Coimbra:

1. **University of Coimbra**: Explore one of the oldest universities in Europe, founded in 1290, and visit its stunning buildings.
2. **Joanina Library**: Admire the ornate baroque library within the University of Coimbra, renowned for its impressive book collection and elaborate decor.
3. **Sé Velha (Old Cathedral)**: Visit this Romanesque cathedral dating back to the 12th century, notable for its fortress-like appearance and historical significance.
4. **Sé Nova (New Cathedral)**: Explore the New Cathedral, a beautiful example of Portuguese Baroque architecture.
5. **Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha**: Discover the ruins of this Gothic monastery founded in the 14th century and learn about its history.
6. **Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova**: Visit the newer monastery built to replace the flood-prone original, housing the tomb of Saint Isabel of Portugal.
7. **Portugal dos Pequenitos**: Enjoy this miniature park featuring scaled-down models of Portuguese landmarks and traditional houses, great for families.
8. **Machado de Castro National Museum**: Explore the museum's extensive collection of art and artifacts, housed in a former bishop's palace.
9. **Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra**: Stroll through one of the oldest botanical gardens in Portugal, featuring diverse plant species and peaceful walking paths.
10. **Penedo da Saudade**: Visit this romantic viewpoint offering panoramic views of Coimbra and the Mondego River.
11. **Pedro e Inês Footbridge**: Walk across this colorful, modern pedestrian bridge named after the tragic lovers Pedro and Inês.
12. **Coimbra’s Downtown (Baixa)**: Wander through the historic city center with its narrow streets, shops, and cafes.
13. **Santa Cruz Monastery**: Visit this important religious site and the resting place of Portugal's first two kings, Afonso I and Sancho I.
14. **Fado Performance**: Experience the soulful sounds of Coimbra's unique style of Fado music, often performed by university students.
15. **Aqueduct of São Sebastião**: Marvel at this 16th-century aqueduct, also known as the Arcos do Jardim, near the University of Coimbra.
16. **Conimbriga**: Take a short trip to this well-preserved Roman settlement with impressive mosaics and ruins, located just outside Coimbra.
17. **Science Museum of the University of Coimbra**: Engage with interactive exhibits on natural history, physics, and chemistry at this educational museum.
18. **Lousã Mountains**: Explore the nearby Lousã Mountains, ideal for hiking, mountain biking, and discovering charming schist villages.
19. **Choupal National Forest**: Enjoy outdoor activities like walking, jogging, and bird-watching in this lush forest along the Mondego River.
20. **Praça da República**: Relax at this lively square surrounded by cafes and shops, often a gathering place for students and locals.

Coimbra's rich history, academic heritage, and vibrant cultural scene offer a variety of experiences for visitors to enjoy.

Coimbra History

Coimbra, a city situated in central Portugal, is known for its rich history, academic heritage, and cultural significance. Its story spans several millennia, marked by diverse influences and notable events that have shaped its character and legacy.

### Ancient and Roman Periods

The history of Coimbra dates back to prehistoric times, with archaeological evidence suggesting human presence in the region during the Paleolithic era. The area was initially inhabited by various tribes before the Romans arrived in the 2nd century BCE. Under Roman rule, Coimbra, then known as Aeminium, developed into a significant settlement due to its strategic location along the Mondego River.

The Romans constructed essential infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and aqueducts, facilitating the city's growth as a commercial hub. Remnants of Roman architecture, such as the cryptoporticus (an underground gallery), can still be seen in the city, reflecting its historical importance during this period.

### Visigothic and Moorish Rule

Following the decline of the Roman Empire, Coimbra came under the control of the Visigoths in the early 5th century. The city remained under Visigothic rule until the early 8th century when it was conquered by the Moors. During the Moorish occupation, Coimbra, known as Qulumriyya, experienced significant cultural and economic development. The Moors introduced advanced agricultural practices, architectural styles, and scholarly pursuits that enriched the city's heritage.

### The Reconquista and the Kingdom of Portugal

The Christian Reconquista, a series of military campaigns aimed at reclaiming Iberian territories from the Moors, significantly impacted Coimbra. In 1064, Ferdinand I of León captured the city, marking a crucial turning point in its history. Coimbra became an essential stronghold in the Christian effort to reclaim Portugal.

In 1139, Afonso Henriques declared himself King of Portugal, and in 1143, the Kingdom of Portugal was formally recognized. Coimbra played a pivotal role in the early days of the Portuguese monarchy. The city served as the capital of Portugal from 1139 to 1255 before the seat of power moved to Lisbon. During this time, Coimbra witnessed the construction of important religious and civic buildings, establishing its status as a significant cultural and political center.

### The Establishment of the University of Coimbra

One of the most defining moments in Coimbra’s history was the establishment of the University of Coimbra in 1290 by King Dinis. Initially located in Lisbon, the university was permanently transferred to Coimbra in 1537. This move transformed the city into a major center of learning and intellectual activity.

The University of Coimbra is one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world and has played a crucial role in shaping the city’s identity. The university attracted scholars, students, and intellectuals from across Europe, fostering an environment of academic excellence and cultural exchange. Notable alumni include figures such as Luís de Camões, Portugal’s greatest poet, and the philosopher Francisco Suárez.

### The Renaissance and Baroque Periods

During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, Coimbra continued to flourish as a center of learning and culture. The city saw the construction of numerous architectural landmarks, many of which remain significant today.

1. **Joanina Library**: Built in the early 18th century, the Joanina Library is a baroque masterpiece within the University of Coimbra. It houses an extensive collection of rare books and manuscripts, reflecting the intellectual heritage of the institution.
2. **Sé Velha (Old Cathedral)**: This Romanesque cathedral, dating back to the 12th century, is one of the best-preserved examples of its kind in Portugal. Its fortress-like appearance and intricate details highlight the architectural style of the period.
3. **Sé Nova (New Cathedral)**: The New Cathedral, constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries, showcases Portuguese Baroque architecture and symbolizes the city's continued religious significance.

### The Age of Exploration and Portuguese Empire

Coimbra played a role in the Age of Exploration, a period marked by Portuguese maritime expansion and the establishment of a global empire. The city’s scholars contributed to the scientific and navigational knowledge that enabled explorers like Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan to embark on their historic voyages.

The wealth generated from the Portuguese colonies flowed into Coimbra, funding the construction of grand buildings and supporting the university's growth. The city became a melting pot of ideas, blending influences from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

### The 18th and 19th Centuries

The 18th and 19th centuries were periods of transformation and modernization for Coimbra. The city underwent significant urban development, with the construction of new streets, squares, and public buildings. The University of Coimbra continued to expand, and its influence permeated various aspects of Portuguese society.

1. **Pombaline Reforms**: Named after the Marquis of Pombal, these reforms in the mid-18th century aimed to modernize Portugal’s educational system. The University of Coimbra was restructured, introducing new faculties and modernizing its curriculum.
2. **Liberal Movements**: The 19th century saw the rise of liberal movements in Portugal, advocating for constitutionalism and political reform. Coimbra, with its intellectual and academic community, became a hotbed for liberal ideas and played a role in shaping the political landscape of the country.

### The 20th Century and the Carnation Revolution

The 20th century brought both challenges and progress to Coimbra. The city experienced the impacts of two World Wars, economic fluctuations, and political changes.

1. **Estado Novo**: Under the authoritarian regime of António de Oliveira Salazar (1932-1974), Coimbra, like the rest of Portugal, faced political repression and limited freedoms. However, the university remained a center for dissent and intellectual resistance against the regime.
2. **Carnation Revolution**: On April 25, 1974, the Carnation Revolution, a peaceful military coup, overthrew the Estado Novo regime. Coimbra played a role in the revolution, with students and faculty from the university actively participating in the movement for democracy and social justice.

### Modern Era

In recent decades, Coimbra has continued to evolve, balancing its historical heritage with modern development. The city remains a vibrant academic and cultural center, attracting students, researchers, and tourists from around the world.

1. **Cultural Heritage**: Coimbra’s historic sites, such as the University of Coimbra, Joanina Library, and the medieval cathedrals, have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage sites, highlighting their global significance.
2. **Economic Development**: The city has seen growth in various sectors, including education, healthcare, technology, and tourism. The University of Coimbra remains a leading institution in research and innovation, contributing to the city’s economic and social development.
3. **Cultural Festivals**: Coimbra hosts numerous cultural events and festivals, celebrating its rich traditions and contemporary creativity. The Queima das Fitas, an annual student festival, is one of the largest and oldest academic celebrations in Europe.

### Conclusion

Coimbra’s history is a tapestry of diverse influences, marked by periods of conquest, intellectual achievement, and cultural enrichment. From its ancient origins to its modern status as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Coimbra has continually reinvented itself while preserving its unique character. The city’s enduring legacy as a center of learning and culture continues to inspire and attract people from around the globe, ensuring its place in the annals of history.

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