Sala do Exame Privado ING
PRIVATE EXAM ROOM
During its existence as the royal palace, this space served as the king's quarters, but was later transformed into a venue where the graduates take their examinations. The examination consisted of an oral test taken at dusk. It was a private event, that is, only the student to be assessed and the professors could be in the room.
This examination continued up until the second half of the 18th century, having been abolished during the reforms carried out by the Marquis of Pombal during the reign of King Joseph I.
These reforms revolutionised education in Portugal, having a deep impact on the University of Coimbra, with the introduction of the ideas and values of the Enlightenment. The first great change was the expulsion of the Jesuits from the country. This was followed by the great reform to the University, which in particular saw the introduction of new areas of study such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy.
To achieve this, the Marquis carried out a series of architectural works that transformed the University spaces: the Botanical Garden and Astronomical Observatory, which were built in the Palace of Schools, but were demolished during the 1950s. In addition to this, the buildings left empty by the Society of Jesus were renovated: the Chemistry Laboratory (former Jesuit dining hall) and the College of Jesus, the order's former province house, where the Physics Office and the Natural History Gallery were built. Today, these spaces make up the Science Museum of the University of Coimbra.
The ceiling in this room dates back to 1701. One can see the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Portugal and representations of the former great Faculties at the University of Coimbra: Theology (Cross and Sun), Law (Scale and Sword), Medicine (Swan and the Staff of Hermes) and Canon Law (Papal Mitre).
The walls of the room contain portraits of the 38 rectors from the 16th to the 18th centuries, together with the length of their terms: the caption records the number of days, months, and years that the rector headed the University. Today, the Rector's term of office is limited to a maximum of 8 years (two 4-year terms).
Did you know ...?
• D. Garcia de Almeida (first portrait) was the only rector represented in this room who did not belong to a religious order.
• The first "meeting" between the Rector and the lentes (professors) of the University took place in this room on 13 October 1537, following the permanent relocation of this institution to Coimbra.
• D. Manuel de Meneses (sixth portrait) was the first student of the University of Coimbra to become Rector.