The town of Coimbra is second only to Oporto and Lisbon. Its ancient buildings cling to the side of the hill that rises above the curves of the river Mondego, the ornate buildings of the famous University of Coimbra are its crowning glory.
The city of Coimbra is since 1290 one of the oldest university cities in whole Europe with about 19.000 students. Actually the city of Coimbra is the intellectual and spiritual centre of Portugal a monument. Coimbra was created with its different faculties, the Biblioteca Joanina (library of Joanina) and the Jardim Botanico (botanical garden).
Indeed the university is still the lifeblood of the town and the change in atmosphere is notable when the summer holidays come and the thousands of students head back to their hometowns. Coimbra, which was the capital of Portugal from 1139 to about 1260, has a large archeological site with extensive ruins dating from the time it was a Roman city called Aeminium.
Coimbra called the old town ("cidade alta" or "upper town") are fine old churches and narrow streets standing up on a hill overlooking the Modego River.