Colorful Coimbra ribbons
Portuguese Coimbra is a city where smoking ribbons is a great celebration. It used to be the capital of the state, and today it tempts with the charm of old universities, a seed bank and the Garden of Tears. What else?
Coimbra is the third largest city in Portugal. Like our good Krakow, it is famous for its large number of students, and the university here is the oldest university in the whole country. It is impossible to miss the Universidade de Coimbra building - it towers over the city, dignifiedly located at the top of the hill. The city itself huddled at his feet, gently cut by a Mondego ribbon called the River of Poets.
Celebration of burning ribbons
The student atmosphere of Coimbra can be felt everywhere and always - not only in May, when the great Queima das Fitas fiesta takes place, which means Smoking Ribbons. This is the juwenalia, for which the city (and especially the students) are preparing a few months earlier. It consists of a huge parade of decorated trucks, concerts, fun and dancing. The name of the fiesta comes from the ritual performed by students of the penultimate year. It takes place in the square in front of the baroque Se Nova cathedral and symbolically burns ribbons of seven colors. Each color is assigned to a different department. For example, red ribbons are burned by law students, while purple ribbons are for pharmacy.
The party lasts a week and begins with fado - songs full of reflection and reverie. They sound at midnight and last about 2 hours. They can only be sung by men selected by the student body, headed by Dux Veteranum , the oldest (not to say: eternal) student of the university. The stairs of the Sé Velha cathedral are already crowded from late afternoon, and in the evening the streets leading to the cathedral square are filled. During the fiesta, the city is teeming with music and bustle, turning into a huge open-air festival.
Coimbra attracts tourists not only in May. Its most important monuments - apart from the university itself - include several beautiful churches, including Sé Velha , known as the Old Cathedral because of being the oldest cathedral church in Portugal. A bit raw in construction, inside it delights with a colorful and richly carved altar. Its cloisters, where you can admire the university complex, are also captivating.
When talking about Coimbra, one cannot ignore the university's symbol, i.e. the Goat Tower (Torre de Cabra). You can see it from practically every point of the city. In the past, the distinctive sound of the tower bell was a sign for students to attend classes.
It is also worth visiting the interior of the Church of Santa Cruz , built in the 12th century. It is decorated with Manueline cloisters, and the Memorias de Santa Crus houses an impressive collection of paintings, reliquaries, silverware and statues. It is worth knowing that the temple contains the ashes of the first two Portuguese rulers.
Tribute to a loved one
In the south-eastern part of the city is the Quinta das Lágrimas ("Garden of Tears") park, with which the story of Iněs de Castro, beloved son of King Alfonso IV, is connected. She was executed on the orders of the ruler, who thus wanted to end the prince's affair. After the death of his father, Pedro exhumed Iněs' corpse, crowned it and placed it next to him on the throne, forcing his subjects to pay tribute to them.
Another interesting place is the botanical garden which covers an area of 13 hectares. Jardim Botânico da Universidade de Coimbra was founded in the 18th century. It is famous for its huge collection of tropical trees, as well as for its seed bank and floristic research.
Where to stay
Tourists who wish to spend more time in the city can stay at Coimbra Camping . It is located on the outskirts, and a day's stay costs about 4-6 euro. We will pay 5-8 euro for a parking space for a motorhome.
It is worth visiting Coimbra while traveling through the country of Porto and Bacalhau, the more so as it is a very good base for visiting other attractive towns in the region.
A writer by profession, a passion of a cat. One day he will see what is behind the Urals - good to Vladivostok. So far, when he can, he enjoys the sun of the countries of southern Europe. And it's also fun;)