|Great Hall of Acts||Private Examination Room||Arms Room|
The Royal Palace of Coimbra was purchased by the University from the Royal Family in 1597. It is here that the most iconic rooms of the University are located, where the most important traditional academic ceremonies take place, but in which some key moments in the History of Portugal also occurred.
It has changed considerably throughout its millenary existence, especially between 16th and 18th century renovations, made purposely to adapt the Royal Palace to the new teaching functions of the buildings, which gave it its unique aesthetic that today is easily identified.
The Great Hall of Acts is the main room of the University and where its main ceremonies are held; it is also the place par excellence of the realization of doctoral exams by doctoral students at the University of Coimbra, and is better known as "Hall of Capelos", "Capelos " being the name given to the small cape used by the University’s Doctors on solemn occasions.
It was the first Throne Room of Portugal. Here, between March and April 1385, the assembled Courts determined the acclamation of João, the Master of Avis, as King João I of Portugal. Its decorations are from the 17th century, and the absence of any mention of the Spanish monarchs, who ruled the kingdom between 1580 and 1640, are the direct result of the huge political and ideological support of the Institution to King João IV, Duke of Braganza.
The Private Examination Room,
former room of the King of Portugal, was the place where the graduates held
their exams to Doctors. This consisted of a private oral exam, done in secret
and at night. Their demand was such that its memory remained after its end,
with the Reforms of the Marquis of Pombal in the 1770’s. It’s current layout dates
back to the great works of the University at the beginning of the 18th century.
The Arms Room houses the weapons (halberds) of the former Royal Academic Guard, which had the function of guarding the University spaces. These weapons are used nowadays by Halberdiers - original guard body heirs - only on solemn academic ceremonies: solemn and PhD Honoris Causa, the Rector Investiture, the Solemn Opening of the School Year.