Coimbra historically speaking a university city, marked by the student traditions, and its renowned University, founded in 1290, currently with approximately 30000 students.
Bathed by the Mondego River, Coimbra has approximately 150 000 inhabitants (2011), divided into 31 parishes.
It is one of the most important Portuguese cities, due to infrastructure, businesses and organizations in addition to its historical importance and privileged position in the center of the country. Coimbra is also a reference in the areas of Education and Health.
The municipal holiday is the 4th of July, honoring Queen Isabel, the city's patron.
It was National Capital of Culture in 2003 and is one of the oldest cities in Portugal, having been the capital of the Kingdom, its major ex-libris is the University, the oldest in Portugal and in Portuguese-speaking countries, and one of the oldest in Europe.
City of narrow streets, courtyards, stairways and medieval arches, Coimbra was the birthplace of six kings
In the 12th century, Coimbra had an urban structure, divided between the upper city, called High or Almedina where the aristocrats, clerics, and later, students lived, and lower city for trade, craft and popular riverside neighborhoods.
Coimbra reborns and becomes the most important city south of the Douro river, capital of a vast county ruled by Mozarabic Sesnando. When the Portucalense County begins, Count D. Henrique and Queen Tereza make their residence in the city, and was to be in the safety of its walls that first king of Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques, was born, making it the capital of the county, replacing Guimarães in 1129 (moving the capital to the fields of Mondego was vital to achieve the independence of the new country, at all levels: economic, political and social). Coimbra remains the capital of Portugal until1255, when in moves to Lisbon.
The Romans called the city, which stood on the hill by the river Mondego, Aeminium. Later, with the increase of its importance became the seat of the Diocese, replacing the Roman city of Conímbriga, from which derived its new name. In 711 the Moors arrived in the Iberian Peninsula and named the city Kulūmriyya, making it an important trading post between the Christian north and Arabic south with a strong community Mozarabic. In 871 becomes the County of Coimbra, but only in 1064 the city is definitely reconquered by Ferdinand I of León.
Since mid-sixteenth century the history of the city starts to revolve around the history of its University, and only in the nineteenth century the city begins to expand beyond its walled hull, which reaches even disappear with reforms undertaken by Marquês de Pombal.
The first half of the nineteenth century brings hard times to Coimbra, the occupation of the city by the troops of Junot and Massena, during the French invasion and later extinction of the religious orders. However, in the second half of nineteenth century, the city would recover the lost splendor - 1856 brings the first electric telegraph in the city and gas lighting, in 1864 is inaugurated the railway, and 11 years later the iron bridge over the river Mondego
With the University being the heart of the city, the student movements arise, drafted in either political, cultural or social manifestation. Many of these movements didn’t resist over the years, but others remain, like the Orfeon Académico de Coimbra, in 1880, the oldest choir in Portugal, the Associação Académica de Coimbra, in 1887, and Tuna Académica da Universidade de Coimbra, in 1888. Over the years numerous other organizations emerged and represented the Portugal all over the world.
The main points of interest of the historic center of the city can be visited on foot from the station Coimbra A, the main car parks and from most central hotels. The connection High to Low City has, in some streets, slopes that may complicate the ascending route. The parks and gardens of the Mondego river are also pleasant places for a walk. In the central zone, there is a vast shopping area reserved for pedestrians.
The city may discourage city bike tours in some áreas, but you can find some good áreas in the parks along the river. The town hall lends bicycles in the weekends in Parque Verde do Mondego, next to green spaces. Basófias offers boat rides along the river. You can also rent canoes and pedal boats for a river ride.
The movement is fluid in Coimbra, but parking in the center is usually scarce and expensive. In the University area is very difficult to find parking. For a shorter stay we recommend one of the many underground car parks of the city center. For an extended stay, the parks along the river, particularly the left margin, which is free.
Coimbra has taxi service contactable via a central radio. The rate is an initial fixed price and a value that depends on the route and distance.
Coimbra has a good public transport system, with daily tickets to tourists. There is also the Funtastic, a panoramic bus that runs through the main sights of the city.