Visit the University of Coimbra, a UNESCO's World Heritage Site since 2013, according to your interests through one of the available programs at your disposal.
Program 1, From the Palace to the College
Wider tour to the spaces that made History in the University of Coimbra.This program includes the visit to the Royal Palace (Great Hall of Acts, Private Examination Room and Arms Room), the Chapel of St. Michael, the Baroque Library (Grand Room, Middle Floor and the Academic Prison) and the College of Jesus, which includes the Physics Laboratory (18th and 19th centuries) and the Natural History Collection (18th century).
Program 2, Coimbra World Heritage
In this tour you are taken through the Royal Palace and the College of Jesus, which includes the Physics Laboratory (18th and 19th centuries) and the Natural History Collection (18th century).
Adult: normal ticket; Children =12: Free; Youth 13-18: 50% of the normal ticket
Program 1 - From the Palace to the College
Students26 / Seniors6510€
Program 2 - Coimbra World Heritage
Normal Ticket 7€
Students26 / Seniors65 5.50€
Program 3 - Tower of the University
Normal Ticket 2€
Tower of the University + program +1€
IMPORTANT NOTICE: As part of a new set of rules by the Tourist Circuit of the University of Coimbra, since 1st of April 2016, for groups over 10 pax, the use of radio-guides as well as an escort will be mandatory. The University will have these equipments to rent at your disposal, though we strongly suggest their reserve in advance.
INFORMATIONS: (+351) 239 242 744 (weekdays)
RESERVATIONS - only for guided tours (minimum of 3 weekdays in advance), groups with more than 10 persons and tourism operators:firstname.lastname@example.org
A 3€ fee is charged for every booked group, regardless of the number of persons in it.
IMPORTANT: Your reservation is valid only after contact by the University's Tourism Office and the attribution of the reservation code.
The Baroque Library opens every 20 minutes with a maximum of 60 persons in each opening.
Tower of the University: 10.30am - 7.pm
March 2th until 31th of October, 2019
9 am until 7 pm
The University of Coimbra is the oldest Portuguese university and for centuries the only university in Portugal - speaking about the history of the Portuguese University is, generally speaking, talking about the University of Coimbra.
Founded in 1290 by King Dinis in Lisbon, it was permanently settled in Coimbra in 1537, by order of King João III, after a period of migration between these two cities. Initially planned to work in Sofia Street, opened specifically to accommodate it, near the Monastery of Santa Cruz, it was in the Royal Palace of the “Alcaçova”, later the Palace of Schools, that all Faculties of the University of Coimbra - Theology, Canons, Law and Medicine – began their work in 1544. This is the image recorded in the Portuguese collective imagination, indelible mark of the city and its University ever since.
For centuries the city and the University were shaped in a deep symbiotic relationship, clearly visible in our days when we appreciate the relationship between the various cores of Alta (higher city).
The Palace of Schools, historic center par excellence of the University, holds a part of the whole that constitutes the University - here we perceive the traditions and mystique that makes it unique in the world. Inseparable from the city that hosts it, one feels the legacy of centuries, which projects itself in time, connecting the past and the future.
The College of Jesus is the oldest Jesuit College in the world, created here in 1542. It became the teaching space of sciences at the University of Coimbra after the Studies reforms, driven by the Marquis of Pombal in 1772. It is now one of the major references in what relates to the History of Science in Portugal.
In June 2013, UNESCO classified the University of Coimbra as World Heritage Site, for its unquestionable value for the History and Portuguese Culture – thus rewarding the effort and dedication of those who every day works to preserve, enhance and especially share its heritage with the World
The Royal Palace
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.
Saint Michael's Chapel
The original chapel dates back probably to 11th century, built right after the conquest of the city from the Moors in 1064, just prior to the foundation of Portugal. It is dedicated to St. Michael, like all Portuguese Royal Chapels, because of it (religious) role in defeating the forces of evil.
The current layout is the direct result of the 16th century renovations under the patronage of King Manuel I, whose decorative style has its patent mark on the side door, one of the simplest and most beautiful of its kind.
The interior decoration was carried out over the 16th and 18th centuries and works by artists like Simão Rodrigues, Simão Ferreira, Joaquim Ferreira Bernardes and Francisco Araujo can be appreciated all throughout the building. The majestic pipe organ by Friar Manuel of St. Benedict (1733), with over 2000 tubes, is still in use today.
Built between 1717 and 1728, it is one of the exponents of the Baroque Portuguese and one of the richest European libraries. Will be known as Baroque Library in honor and memory of King John V (1707-1750), who sponsored its construction and whose portrait, made by Domenico Duprà (1725), dominates the space.
It consists of three floors: the Noble floor, richly decorated space, the most emblematic face of the House of the Library; Intermediate Floor, workplace and acted as the guard house; the Academic Prison, which worked here from 1773 until 1834.
The Noble Floor, completed in 1728, began receiving the first books after 1750, and currently its collection comprises some 40,000 volumes. The entire construction is aimed at conservation of library collections, from the width of the outer walls to the use of wood inside. Also to in aid the conservation of books, there are two small colonies of bats that for centuries protected them from insects.
Built with noble and exotic materials, brought from all over the world, the symbolism attributed to its decor are a tribute to the magnanimity and power of King John V and the Portuguese Empire, whose repository of knowledge was headquartered here in the King’s University. It was used as a place of study from 1777 until the mid-20th century, until the General Library opened in 1962.
The Academic Prison worked initially in two rooms beneath the “Hall of Capelos”, then in 1559 - since its foundation that the University had, as privilege, its own legal code, apart from the general law of the Kingdom. To this code, the "Private Forum", were subjected all those who in some way were connected to the Institution. This autonomy has allowed the University to have Judge - the Rector -, Guards and Prison.
In 1773, it was transferred to the building of the Baroque Library, which recovered the remains of what was the old jail of the Royal Palace, and documenting the single medieval jail that still exists in Portugal. In 1834, after terminating the religious orders in Portugal, the prison served as a deposit for books, manuscripts and illuminated manuscripts that belong to the various monasteries and convents.
The Intermediate Floor was always the deposit of the Library, and access was denied to students, Professprs and other users of the Library - access would always be for, and only for the librarians. It was also the place where the Royal Academic Guard would be, accessing the Academic Prison below, through a winding staircase, original of the old Jail form the 14th century.University's Tower
The Tower is the image brand of the University and the city of Coimbra. Designed by the Italian architect Antonio Cannevari, it was built between 1728 and 1733, replacing the old 16th century tower Jean de Rouen erected (1561).
Its distinct shape results from one of the original purposes - to serve as an astronomical observation site, hence the “roofless” top, uncommon in other similar towers around the world. With 34 meters in height it dominates the landscape around her.
The University’s daily life has always been regulated by the bells of the tower, the oldest being from 1561. By tradition the bells always went 15 minutes behind the other clock towers of the city, in order not to confuse the inhabitants and students regarding their daily obligations and duties.
The University Tower was recently the subject of an intervention in its structure that allows visitors to travel to its top and enjoy rich, a unique view over the city of Coimbra.
Important Note: for safety reasons the Tower is closed on bad weather days and the children children under 6 years old are not allowed inside. The visit is not advisable to people suffering from heart diseases, vertigo or claustrophobia
College of Jesus
The College of Jesus is one of the spaces of the University of Coimbra less known, despite their importance for the history of the institution and for scientific development in Portugal.
Initially built by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) from 1542 - making it the oldest Jesuit college in the world - is was transferred to the University in 1759, due to the expulsion of the Company of Jesus of Portugal, by the Marquis of Pombal.
It will become the center of all the Reforms of the University, from 1772. Two new Colleges - Natural Philosophy and Mathematics - were created, and it was extensively refurbished to accommodate the Faculty of Medicine. Also the old refectory of the College, was reconstructed to serve as the "Laboratório Chimico" (Chemical Laboratory), now the Museum of Science.
The Physics Gallery exists in the context of the Reform by the transfer to Coimbra of Experimental Physics classes from the Royal College of Nobles and its tools from Lisbon. It was invited to direct it Giovanni dalla Bella, a reputed Italian physicist, who had already been at the College of Nobles - the collection of instruments was acquired during his direction – meanwhile returned to Padua. The original collection has several characteristics, among which we highlight its artistic richness and originality - this Gallery has the distinction of being honored by the European Physical Society for his historical interest.
The Zoology Gallery, is the responsibility of Domenico Vandelli, who, as Giovanni Dalla Bella, came to Portugal to teach at the Royal College of Nobles. In Coimbra, he's made director of the Science Museum, but it's mostly in Natural History that his work stands out. In addition to the Natural History Museum, he is also responsible for the organization of the Botanical Garden.
The collections presented here reflect donations to the University and the outcome of various “philosophic journeys” undertaken throughout the Portuguese Empire, under the direct patronage of the Crown, at the end of the 18th century.