Beautiful cities

The most important university city in Portugal

Started as a Roman settlement, Coimbra is home to the University of Coimbra, the oldest academic institution (14th century) in the Portuguese-speaking world and one of the oldest in Europe.

A number of wellknown Portuguese people were born in Coimbra, like the poet Francisco Sá de Miranda (16th century) and sculptor Machado de Castro (18th century).
Poet Luis de Camões and the saint Santo António studied in Coimbra.

Before seizing the power over the country, Salazar was professor in economics at Coimbra’s university.

Scenic location

Coimbra is picturesquely situated at the river Mondego. A walk through the city is very worthwhile. Most attractions are so close to eachother that you can get a very good impression of the city in just one day. The old city centre is on top of a very steep hill, so a walk to the university buildings on top of the hill can be a bit exhausting. You can get a city map at the tourism office.

There are lots of things to see and do in Coimbra, for detailed information it’s best to bring a travelguide.

But whatever you do, you must see the main building of the Universidade de Coimbra, with the Biblioteca Velha (university’s library, 1728) as undisputed highlight.

www.uc.pt/en

Stunning city with castle in the valley of the river Lis

On top of a hill, in the centre of Leiria, you can find the remains of the Castelo the Leiria. It was built around 1135, and in the 16th century it was transformed into a renaissance palace. Parts of the castle were renovated in the 20th century.

It is one of the most beautiful castles in Portugal. It is even part of the country’s coat-of-arms.

The historic city centre of Leiria spreads between the castle hill and the river Lis.

Other sites in the city are:

  • The Sé cathedral, renaissance style
  • Museu do Seminário (seminary’s museum): exhibition of old azulejos (Portuguese tiles), wood carvings, sculptures, and 16th century paintings
  • Igreja da Misericórdia
  • Nossa Senhora da Encarnação: pilgrims church
  • Igreja do Espirito Santo
  • Moinho do Papel do Lis: an old paper mill with a museum about the craft of making paper
  • Museu de Imagem e Movimento MIMO: museum of image and movement
  • Jardim de Luis de Camões (garden)

 

Centuries-old and active town

In the 10th century a morish village was founded at the junction of the rivers Alcoa and Baça: Alcobaça. Alcobaça is a pleasant village, well known for the Monastery of Alcobaça (Real Abadia de Santa Maria de Alcobaça), one of the most magnificent gothic monuments in the country.

It all started when King Afons I promised to give some land to saint Bernard if he would succeed in conquering the city of Santarém from the Moors. He succeeded in 1147, and in 1178 the Cistercians started building the monastry, and finished it some 45 years later. Soon it became the most important cistercian monastry in Portugal. The complex is one of the first gothic constructions in Portugal. It is partly open to the public.
In the church lie the remains of Pedro I and Inês de Castro. Their love story is the most famous story in Portugal. Their tombs face each other, so that when they both rise on judgment day, the first thing they see will be each other.

In Alcobaça you can visit the museum of Raul da Bernarda: an exhibition of earthenware made by the company of Raul da Bernarda & Filhos.

 

Events

Every year many exhibitions, concerts, etc. are organised in Alcobaça. To name a few:

  • Cister Música (June, July)
  • Feira de São Bernardo (August)
  • Doces e Licores Conventuais (November)
     
Townmap

 

Batalha is located in the heart of central Portuga

With the famous Santa Maria de Vitória monastry in the city centre

King João I ordered the construction of the monastry, to thank the Virgin Mary for the Portuguese victory over the Castilians in the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. The monastry is a Portuguese late gothic and manuelino masterpiece.

Together with Alcobaça and Tomar, Batalha forms the Golden Triangle of abbeys in the Costa de Prata (Silvercoast). These three monastries are on Unesco’s World Heritage list.
The municipal museum of Batalha was opened in 2011. It was founded to support the cultural heritage of the village. The museum has some interactive features, and takes you on a journey through the past to the present. In the historical archives you can also see the excavations of the Roman city of Collipo, that once was built in the Batalha area.

Around the monastry you will find all kinds of restaurants, outdoor cafes and shops.