April 2017 Travel to Western Spain and Portugal Part 3: World Heritage Sites No. 6 – University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia

April 2017 western Spain and Portugal of the journey
April 2017 western Spain and Portugal of the journey

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Date and time of visit: April 27, 2017, around 10 a.m.

This is my fourth day entering the country from the northeast of Portugal. The day before, I spent the night in Coimbra, which is also a World Heritage Site. And the next morning was sightseeing. I had a good stay in Coimbra, but I still feel indigestion. The city which I want to revisit increased again.

University town Coimbra

Like the rest of the Iberian Peninsula, the Muslims ruled this area until the 12th century, and there was a fortress around where the University of Coimbra is now located. Then it passed to the Christians. That’s the usual pattern. The university was founded here in 1290 and it’s the oldest university in Europe.

The University of Coimbra was inscribed on the World Heritage List on June 22, 2013, so it is a relatively new World Heritage Site. However, even before that, this university was famous for its tourist attractions.

Of course, Coimbra University is still an active university. That’s why you can see students everywhere in and around the campus. Black cloaks and black suits seem to be the traditional costume, and more than half of the students are walking around the campus wearing black suits and cloaks like this. This is very nice. Moreover, students dressed like this are very popular among tourists, and they are very willing to cooperate with us to take photos for tourists.

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Maybe it’s because this area has a lot of tourists, but of course there are also a lot of students dressed in normal, casual clothes.

By the way, it was a beautiful day, but even at the end of April, it was still chilly before 10am. You might be able to tell by looking at the clothes of everyone in the photo.

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The main attraction is the building where the Royal Palace is located. One of the biggest attractions is the library.

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You don’t need to make a reservation in advance here, but the entrance time will be specified when you buy a ticket. Please go to the entrance of the library at the designated time. You are not allowed to take photos inside the library, probably because of the preservation of books.

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There was no guided tour inside the museum, so we could browse freely, but there were explanatory panels in various languages (Portuguese, Spanish, French, and English, I think) like this, and we could look at them freely while visiting the museum. I tried my best to pick up the French explanatory material (about one A4 sheet).

It is good to have French in many places in southern European countries. As a student of French, it is nice to be able to experience French while traveling outside of France.

I couldn’t take photos of the explanatory materials because photography was not allowed inside, but according to the few notes left on my phone, this library was built around 1717. The reason why it is made of wood is that the library is not exposed to changes in the outside air. By doing so, the library is able to maintain a good temperature and humidity throughout the year. The only problem they had was to prevent « insects ». I couldn’t read what they did about this.

It’s a beautiful library, but to be honest, I’m not sure it was that spectacular. The library in St. Gallen, Switzerland is probably more beautiful.

The next place we visited was the Chapel of Saint-Michel in the university. We were allowed to take photos here. To enter the chapel, you need to knock at the entrance. When you knock, the attendant inside will open the door for you.

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I was able to take pictures of the explanatory materials because it was possible to use a cane here.

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According to the report, this chapel was built in the 16th century and moved to this place in the 17th century due to some troubles. It also says that there was a lot of construction work in the university at that time. The organ in the chapel is said to be made in 1737.

The other famous attraction in the university is the Hat Room, which is used for degree ceremonies and other events. It’s also listed in « Globe-Trotter ». When I visited, I could only see it from the top.

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Lecture rooms, I think they are actually still in use today. The cafeteria and other facilities are also on the same grounds, so you could obviously tell that they were tourists, but they seemed to be available for normal use. I guess it was like using the toilets on the university grounds.

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I tried to go to the Science Museum because it is a very academic place, but I gave up because I misunderstood the location of the site and couldn’t find it. Well, it might have been a little bit troublesome and I really thought it was okay.

Hotels and Restaurants

Now, the city of Coimbra, the area where the university is located is on a very high hill.

The quality of the hotel was about the same as a normal business hotel, but the location was very good. First of all, it is right in front of the station. It is very easy to access for those who come and go by public transportation. Also, for those who drive, there are two public parking lots nearby, both of which are not so expensive and have a lot of capacity. Of course, the city is quite small and crowded, so be careful when driving.

泊まったホテル(booking.com):ホテル オスロ(Hotel Oslo)

I’ve also included a map of the hotel location.

What’s more, the hotel has a rooftop terrace overlooking the city of Coimbra.

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However, I recommend taking photos in the evening. If it’s in the morning, as you can see, it’s backlit to the hilt. If you want to take a full view of the city, it’s better not to be backlit. If the weather is good, the sky will look very blue. It would have been nice if I had noticed this beautiful terrace when I checked in.

The restaurant was nice.

As for restaurants, there seemed to be many good ones in Coimbra. The corner near the hotel, a little bit towards the old town side, was like a restaurant district with many restaurants and the best reputation in this city. This restaurant usually opens after 20:00, but there was already a queue before it opened, and it seemed to have the number one reputation in the city (TripAdvisor).

I could not enter there, but decided to go to this restaurant in the alley that was near the hotel further. It seems to have a very good reputation here when I looked it up on TripAdvisor again roughly.

レストランのサイト(TripAdvisor):A Cozinha da Maria

The inside of the shop.

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Menu List.

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Here, we drank local wine and had a local dish called « Shanfana » from Coimbra. It was a very large dish (quite a lot, but is it okay?). But it was very delicious.

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We also enjoyed the local wines. I forgot to note what kind of food was served.

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なんだか一部消化不良な滞在とはなってしまいましたが、それも毎度のこと。正直、たった1回の訪問では満足の行く観光ができるものではありません。ポルトガル中部の大西洋側は雰囲気もすごく良いので、将来また再訪することでしょう。その時はまたこのホテルを撮って夕方にコインブラの街を撮影したいと思います。(続く)

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