JUL 20,2014 - JUL 20,2014 (1 DAYS)
Coimbra - Day 2:
Orientation: The first part of this day - is a walk along the northern bank of the Mondego river (from north-west to south-east). The second part is walk and visit of several sites of old Coimbra along the southern bank of the Mondego river. The last part is visiting old Coimbra - north of the river around the Old University - in sites not covered during the first day.
Start: Largo da Portagem.
End: Praça 8 de Maio.
Distance: 16 km.
Duration: 1 day.
We start at the road along the Mondego river. On your left - Largo da Portagem. The triangular square/Largo is the main toll plaza and the city center of Coimbra, at the foot of the Ponte Santa Clara, on the beautiful riverbank of Coimbra's Baixa (Lower Town) district. The Civil Government of the District of Coimbra and the Baixo Mondego Intermunicipal Community is located in a large building near the square. The name means place of the gateway, presumably a gateway to the main city. The name of this square is due to the fact that, here, were formerly raised taxes on goods arriving to Coimbra. In this square is one of the architectural symbols of the city of Coimbra, Hotel Astoria built in 1926 and the building of the Bank of Portugal in Coimbra, both of Adães Bermudez. The statue is of Joaquim António de Aguiar with pen in hand, representing the signing in 1833 of a decree banning religious orders throughout Portugal (the result of an anticlerical liberalism that had infused political thought throughout Europe at the time). Connected to the toll of Largo is the main street of the Lower Town, Ferreira Borges Street, a street that is currently closed to traffic and where there are all kinds of traditional commerce, with cafés and shops.
On your right Ponte de Santa Clara and the Mondego river and we head south-east:
It is a splendid walk along the river Coimbra - along the Mondego river (walking to the south-east, and later, eastward). If you're spending a long time in Coimbra it would be worth going for a little wander. A great place outdoor, hiking, reading, picnic, walks, enjoy nature and the setting of the sun on the Mondego. On your left Parque Dr. Manuel Braga and IBIS hotel and Old Coimbra houses nestled into and climbing up along the steep hill overlooking the river:
Further south-east you'll see, on your left, old wooden boats and a gorgeous shop of antiquities:
Continue walking and arrive to a wooden deck small pier. Descend the stairs and you face cafe's, umbrellas and chairs along the river front. Further, on your left playground for children with a sculpture of a bear:
We continue walking eastward along the wooden-deck path bending more distant from the river. On our right a pedestrian bride (ponte pedonal) - Ponte Pedro e Inês with colored-glass pieces decorating its railings. The form "pushes" the limits of structural dynamics. The design is created from two cantilevered walkways, joining in the middle to form a viewing platform. Each walkway is responsible for supporting the other - the two halves are displaced, giving the visual effect of a bridge that does not meet. The bridge, "appears at first glimpse to be impossible," as stated by a local magazine. The balustrade is made from a clear, fractal pattern crafted in colored blue, pink, green and yellow glass. Very interesting and stunning piece of architecture bridge. This bridge is particularly beautiful at night:
Further east, along the Mondego river, on your left (the path is now asphalted) - the Exploration - Centro Ciência Viva: the first interactive science center in the country. Formed in 1995 as non-profit association, was the main founding members Coimbra University and its Faculty of Sciences and Technology, and the Municipal House of Culture of Coimbra as host. Opened to the public in November of the same year, with the exhibition "Chance in Science", which was, at the time, with the support of the European Science Week. In 1998 it was integrated in Live Science centers network and in 2000, recognized as a public utility. You see pavilions with interactive explanations on: plants, flowers, astronomy etc'. Continue along the river until Pavilhão Centro de Portugal. Designed by architect Siza Vieira and Souto Moura, for Expo 2000, held in Hannover (Germany), the Centre of Portugal Pavilion, on the right bank of the Mondego Green Park, covers an area of 1,375 square meters, hosting exhibitions, concerts and other events of a cultural nature.
From here the path is blocked and you are unable to continue east. True, there is further east another bridge Ponte Rainha Santa Isabel Quinta das Varandas. BUT, this is very dangerous to walk over the bridge. NO ACCESS FOR PEDESTRIANS.
We RETURN westward, along the river, with our face to the west - until we arrive, again, to the colored-glasses Ponte Pedro e Inês. Here, we CROSS the footbridge to the SOUTHERN (or better, WESTERN) BANK of the river. On the west side of the river - we land upon Parque do Choupalinho.
Now our direction is north. We walk until we arrive to Ponte Santa. The Santa Clara Bridge, is a road bridge and its construction began in 1951 and was inaugurated on October 30, 1954, by the then President of the Council António de Oliveira Salazar. Its construction allowed the replacement of the old iron bridge which began construction in 1873 and opened to the public in 1875, and that in turn had replaced the old stone bridge dated 1513 allowed the continuation of the connection between Santa Clara and the city center (the toll Largo) and the remaining Lower Town. Arriving near the bridge, sharp left onto Av. João das Regras
220 m., Turn left onto R. de Baixo, take the stairs, 32 m. and Continue straight onto R. Baixo and the ruins of Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha (Rua das Parreiras) are on your left. The monastery was built in the 14th century on the south bank of the Mondego River, but had to be abandoned in the 17th century due to frequent floods. The well-preserved Gothic ruins of the monastery were excavated in the late 20th century, more than 300 years after being abandoned by the nuns. The ruined church recently reopened to the public after 12 years of restorations with a new visitor center. During the centuries the monastery and church were decorated with religious works of art that are now dispersed. The Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova, to which the nuns were relocated in the 17th century, houses three Gothic tombs which were also relocated from Santa Clara-a-Velha, including that of Queen Isabel. Her tomb, dated from circa 1330, displays her full-size recumbent figure over the lid and is by Aragonese sculptor Mestre Pero. Many works of art of the monastery are now in the Machado de Castro Museum in Coimbra. Painted altarpieces include a triptych of circa 1486 about the life of Clare of Assisi and a painted triptych commissioned to Flemish painter Quentin Metsys in 1517. Others pieces of sculpture and metalwork in the museum testify to the wealth and prestige of the monastery. The Museum has 2 excellent films about the sisters/nuns and local religious history, their struggle to create the Convent (this Convent suffered from flooding from the River Mondego over three centuries and the nuns of Santa Clara were eventually forced to move to an uphill site further away from the river to Santa Clara-A-Nova) and the story of the restoration. Plus an excellent exhibit concerning the religious life of the convent and local history. Also quite a good cafe' with special pastry traditional to the convent. Be aware the whole monastery is in a sheltered spot and will get very hot in the summer months - so hat and water are recommended. Adult - 5 euros, senior - 3 euros:
Entrance of Santa Clara Velha in Coimbra:
History of the monastery and artefacts revealed in its premises:
Tapestries exhibition in the monastery:
View of the Old city and the University of Coimbra from Moistero Santa Clara-a-Velha:
Head north on R. Baixo, 40 m. Turn left to stay on R. Baixo, 31 m. Turn right onto Rua António Augusto Gonçalves, 24 m. Turn left onto Av. João das Regras/N1, 29 m. Turn left and see the entrance and tickets office of Portugal in Miniature (5 minutes walk from the monastery). The Portugal dos Pequeninos Theme Park, a miniature village established in 1940, with reproductions of the country's most important buildings and of typical houses and buildings from the former colonies. This recreational-educational park was designed primarily to Children. Live picture of "Portugality" and Portuguese presence in the world, Portugal for the Little Ones is today a historical and pedagogical framework of many generations. Besides being a space approximation of intersection between cultures and peoples, Portugal for the Little Ones is also a qualified show of sculptural and architectural arts. You can see, here, miniatures of important historic buildings in Portugal along with various types of typical buildings existing in the country. You can also see small museums with collections of dolls and miniature furnished houses , collections of handicrafts from Portugal's past overseas colonies like Angola, Brazil, Guinea, Macau, Moçambique, Timor etc'. Opening hours: from 01 JAN to 28/29 of FEB and from 16 of OCT to 31 of DEC - 10.00 - 17.00. From 01 of MAR to 31 of MAY and from 16 of SEP to 15 of OCT - 10.00 - 19.00. Admission prices: Adults (from 14 to 64) 8,95 €, Seniors ( >=65) 5,95 €, Family (2 adults and 2 children 3-13) 25,95 €. Pictures from Coimbra - Portugal dos Pequeninos - Portugal in Miniature - see Tip below.
From the ortugal dos Pequeninos theme park it is 600 m. walk to Ponte de Santa Clara. Head north toward Av. João das Regras, 6 m. Turn right onto Av. João das Regras and walk along the street 350 m. Slight left onto Av. Conimbriga, 59 m. Sharp right to stay on Av. Conimbriga, 39 m. Av. Conimbriga turns left and becomes Ponte de Santa Clara. On your right - Praça da Canção. In front of you the University of Coimbra hill. Here, you get perspective which comes from stepping away, crossing the Mondego on the Santa Clara Bridge, walking downstream, and looking back at the town from a distance. The view is stunning:
After crossing the bridge/street - you arrive, again, to Largo da Portagem. With your face to the square descend the stairs on your left to have dinner in the modest MAFFA restaurant/bar. See Tip below.
Walk north along Rua Ferreira Borges. On the first turn - turn RIGHT (north-east) to Rua de Corpo de Deus. We climb along this road, when, on our left is Igreja de Sant Tiago:
In the middle of Rua de Corpo de Deus, on your left, is a charming view of the old and new city. Downstairs is the Mercado Dom Pedro V - the municipal market:
In the point which stands a telephone cabin and you see, in front, a signpost of "Monumentos" turn sharply RIGHT to Rua Colégio Novo (high wall on your left). Walking further up along Rua Colégio Novo - you arrive to an intersection where Couraça dos Apóstolos is on your left. Continue along the walls of the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences (Sao Augustino College). On your left decaying houses with broken windows.
Continue climbing up along Rua Colégio Novo until you arrive to the intersection with Rua Sobre Ribas. Turn right to Rua Sobre Ribas to have a look at the Torre do Prior do Ameal or Torre de Anto (Anto Tower). Currently Handicrafts House and declared as National Monument since 1935. Step to the end of the white terrace to get a full view of the tower and the wide wonderful sight around:
Continue to descend along Rua Sobre Ribas. The road bends left sloping down steeply. Pass the arch and you arrive to the Torre da Contenda - Quarrel Tower. This tower was sold to João Vaz at the beginning of the 16th century (1514). Who built a palace ("Paço de Sobre Ripas") partly over the old tower and also constructed the arch which connects the residence to dwellings on the other side of the street. this later became a residence with renaissance decoration:
Walk further a few steps to see houses numbers 27 - 33 in red and yellow:
Return to Rua Sobre Ribas and now climb up direct (NOT TO THE RIGHT) with the signpost pointing to "Igreja S.Salvador, Museu Machdo Castro". A good chance for breeze. Pass under the arch. DO NOT BEND LEFT TO Rua Joao Jacinto and bend RIGHT to Rua da Boa Vista. Bend right, then, left and you face the graffiti:
Now you descend to Rua do Cabido. If you bend, again, to the right - you'll arrive to the Old Cathdral - Se' Velha. But, you have to bend UPWARD to the LEFT (!!!). On your right a white building with the Loggia restaurant. On your left - Travessa de S. Salvador. In front of you - a spectacular view of old Coimbra with the University and the Old Cathedral:
Continue to climb along Rua do Cabido. On your left - Largo Sant Salvador:
On your right a door with magnificent portico:
In the end of the exhausting climb of Rua do Cabido - on your right: Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro, adjacent to Igreja (church) San Salvador and, in the background, the Se' Nova (New Cathedral):
Spectacular views, majestic buildings and grandeur all around. Do not stop here ! Continue to climb to the white-glowing square opposite the New Cathedral - Largo de Se' Nova / Largo da Feira dos Estudiantes which has been considerably enlarged in recent years. The square is richly adorned with large-sclae reliefs.
Mors - Death:
Vita - Life:
The Se' Nova (New Cathedral) stands, boastfully, in the north side of the square. The New Cathedral was, originally, the church of the Jesuit Formation house of Coimbra, established in the city in 1543. In 1759, the Jesuit Order was banned from Portugal by the Marquis of Pombal, Prime-Minister of king Joao I. In 1772, the bishopric seat was transferred from the old Romanesque Cathedral of the city (now called the Old Cathedral of Coimbra) to the vacant, spacious and more modern Jesuit church. The niches of the façade of the New Cathedral carry statues of four Jesuit saints. The Baroque decoration of the upper part of the façade, finished in the beginning of the 18th century, contrasts with the lower part, which follows a rigid Mannerist style. The church has two bell towers located just behind the main façade and a dome over the crossing. You will be asked on the entrance to pay one Euro pro person (as donation to help to maintain the Sé Nova).
The interior, covered with barrel vaulting, has one nave with several lateral chapels and a transept with a dome and cupola. Both transept arms and the main chapel of the apse are decorated with huge, magnificent gilt wood altarpieces built between the 17th and 18th centuries which are fine examples of the so-called "national" Portuguese artarpiece style. The lateral chapels of the nave have altarpieces in Mannerist and Baroque styles. The 17th-century choir stalls of the main chapel were brought from the Old Cathedral, as well as the beautiful stone baptismal font, carved by Pero and Felipe Henriques in late Gothic-manueline style in the beginning of the 16th century:
Descend back (west) to Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro, Largo Doutor José Rodrigues.
Founded in 1911, the Museum opened its doors to the public on the 11th October 1913 being raised to the status of a national museum in 1960. At present it is under the direction of the Instituto dos Museus e da Conservação (Ministério da Cultura). Joaquim Machado de Castro (1731-1822) was born in Coimbra and was one of the most well-known sculptors of the Portuguese Baroque working throughout the reigns of Don José, Dona Maria I and Don João VI. It is one of the most important art museums in Portugal, and is housed in the former Bishop's Palace . During the Middle Ages, this palace was built over the Roman forum of Aeminium (Roman name of Coimbra) and nowadays its remains can be visited on the lower floors of the museum. The bulk of the museum's collection is made up of items from churches and religious institutions in the area surrounding Coimbra. The collections of sculpture (the most extensive of all the national museums of Portugal), painting, precious metals, ceramics and textiles are especially noteworthy. A famous restaurant, Loggia, is situated in the Museum exterior courtyard. The museum was one of the finalists in the "Premier European Museums" competion for year 2013. Entrance fees: Adult - 6 euros, senior (65+) - 3 euros.
Loggia - the courtyard:
The Last Supper" by Hodart, "essential work in the history of Portuguese sculpture":
Deposition in the Tomb (XVI century) of Joao de Rouen:
Roman Crypt - underneath the Museum:
Leave the museum and walk west along Rua Borges Carneiro, and, later, Largo Sé Velha. Turn left to Ruas Ilha. From here turn back to catch pretty sun-glowing sights of the Se' Velha (Old Cathedral):
You have good opportunity to see the Se' Velha under the afternoon sun (coming from the west):
From the Old Cathedral we walk back to the heart of the Old City - passing several sites - visited in Day 1. Head west on Largo Sé Velha toward R. Coutinhos, 29 m. Slight right onto R. de Quebra Costas.
Take the stairs, 33 m. Slight left onto R. Quebra Costas, 62 m. Turn right onto R. do Arco Almedina. Take the stairs, 120 m. Continue onto R. Visc. da Luz, 130 m. Continue onto Praça 8 de Maio, 98 m. Turn left onto R. Sofia, 190 m. Turn left onto R. Carmo to see the Church of Our lady, Mount Carmel in Rua Sofia. Opposite the church - there is a branch of Pingo Doce supermarkets.
Return to Praça 8 de Maio - our final destination.
Coimbra - Portugal dos Pequeninos - Portugal in Miniature pictures:
in the centre - Saint Joao Church, Tomar:
in the centre - Alcobaca Monastery:
Moistero de Batalha, Casa dos Coimbras, Braga, Janels Manuelina, Viana do Castelo, Chafariz (fountain) of Braga:
Centre: Clerigos Tower, Porto, right: tower of Laca do Bailio Church: