Coimbra

Strategically located in north-central Portugal is the nation’s sixth largest city, Coimbra.  Inhabited since the Greco-Roman era, Coimbra was a one-time national capital.  Coimbra’s central location has shaped Portugal into the country it is today, with many structures several centuries old for architectural fans.  Coimbra also has amazing cultural events sure to entertain tourists.

The city of Coimbra has home to many museums and places of interest.  These include:

Machado de Castro National Museum:  Named after famed master sculptor Joachim Machado de Castro, the museum is located in a former bishop’s palace.  The National Museum contains Portugal’s most famous and celebrated sculptures, as well as Portuguese and Flemish paintings.  All the contents of the museum date from the 16th to 18th centuries, which complement the 16th century palace that is home to “Virgin and Child,” Master Pero’s sculpture.

Arco de Almedina:  Built in the 11th century and serving as the gateway into the old city, this masterpiece was built by the conqueror Almansor, an Arab Moor.  The adjoining tower served many purposes over the years, the local councillors meeting hall.  The tower bell would chime to call meetings to order; later, the bell was used at opening and closing times for the gate.

Sao Pedro College:  Serving many purposes over the years, including hosting the royal family and apartments, the college has an elaborate entrance constructed in 1713.  The Baroque style entrance is the showpiece on this Mannerist style building.

If you wish to take in the Walking Tour that is offered (starting point is at the Largo da Portagem), be sure to check out the weather before you decide to go.  The weather in Coimbra features warm, dry summers but cool, wet winters.  During the peak of summer, high temperatures in peak of summer reach a nice 28 degrees Celsius, with evening lows of 15 degrees.  Winters are more brutal, with highs in January of 14 degrees, with night-time low temperatures of just five degrees Celsius.  Between October and February, Coimbra receives over 10 centimetres of rain per month, with an annual average total of rain just under 100 centimetres.

When flying to Coimbra, odds are likely you will land at Francisco de Sa Carneiro Airport, which is 118 kilometres from the city centre.  You can select a car hire at Porto Airport to travel to and around Coimbra.

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