Digging in the history of Coimbra – Portugal

From Braga my trip continued to Coimbra, the third largest city in Portugal after Lisbon and Porto. Coimbra is split in two parts by the river Mondego, which gives an extra charm to the city.  The central area is very complex and rather small but very diverse. Basically you can walk on the riverside and when you feel like, you just cross the street and you are in the old town, where plenty of cafes,restaurants,shops and the most important buildings of the town are all together just a few steps from each other. 

The main shopping street is wide and well circulated at any time of the day and evening, but the narrow side streets give the city actually the real bohemian style. What I noticed immediately is the cultural aspect of the place. As you wander from one narrow street to another you can’t miss the big number of art galleries and rustic style shops. It’s an enriching experience walking around in this city. 

The highlight however is of course the worldwide famous Coimbra University, dating from 1290 and being one of the oldest universities in the whole world and the oldest in Portugal.

Parts of the university can be visited and if you are lucky you may enter by coincidence with an organized group and find out interesting info from the guide who speaks perfect German with a very pleasant Portuguese accent. Her German is perfect, but mine isn’t even close, but I definitely understand the part when she says the library was built in the 18th century, contains aprox 250 thousand volumes from fields such as medicine, law, history or science.  She also mentiones no photo, ups, to late for that, this view is priceless…

History is an interesting topic for who’s passionate about it, for me a little of it’s enough and I had my portion for the day. Coimbra has more to offer and what really satisfies my taste, litterally, is bifana. Bifana is the Portuguese version of the simple McDonalds hamburger, but way more tasty and I like to believe that also much healthier. It is pork steak on bread with the optional addition of cheese and bacon. Simple as that, but I guarantee you will lick your fingers after it. Tip: get it take away and chill in the park on the riverside and not only your stomach will be happy but your eyes will brighten up while watching the sunrise or sunset or just the birds flying above the river Mondego.



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