Coimbra, Portugal: Venerable University – Rick Steves’ Europe Travel Guide – Travel Bite

Coimbra, Portugal: Venerable University – Rick Steves’ Europe Travel Guide – Travel Bite


An hour north of Fátima is
the university city of Coimbra. Fortified on its hill, overlooking the Mondego River,
in its medieval heyday, this was Portugal’s
leading city. In the Middle Ages, when Muslim
Moors controlled Portugal, this was the dominant city, and then, for an entire century,
it was the country’s capital. Only later, when Portugal was
becoming a maritime power, did the port cities
of Lisbon and Porto become more influential
than Coimbra. The city was established
by the ancient Romans at a strategic bridge that crossed the Mondego River
at this point. Today’s bridge leads
to the main square, a great place to begin
your Coimbra visit. Coimbra is a delight on foot. The pedestrian-only main drag
is perfectly straight, an indication that it survives
from ancient Roman times. It ends at another
people-friendly square facing the church of Santa Cruz. To be sure I get the most
out of my travels here, I am joined by my friend
and fellow tour guide, Cristina Duarte. Wherever you’re traveling,
you can find private guides listed online
and in guidebooks. It seems like I’ve got friends
all over Europe, doesn’t it? But, you know, I’m paying them
to be my sidekick, and you can, too. I find hiring a private guide
to be money very well spent. Okay, so, the gate is
just this way, isn’t it? -And this is the gate
of the old city. -Of the old city.
What was the name? -Medina.
Arco de Almedina. -“Medina” is an Arabic word. -Is an Arabic word
and reminds us that we were ruled
by the Moors for a couple of centuries.
-Okay. -And defense was very important. -So —
-That’s why the street, you see, it’s not straight. It forms an angle. -Oh, okay.
-And if you look up, you have mata-caes…
-Mata-caes. -…meaning “kill the dogs,” because it was meant to throw
the stones to the enemies. -Oh, no!
-Yeah. -“Kill the dogs.”
I don’t want to be here. -[ Laughs ] -What’s this? -This is the Old Cathedral. -How do you say
that in Portuguese? -Sé Velha.
-Sé Velha. -It’s a 12th-century
cathedral, Romanesque. -So — ’cause you’ve got
the round arches. -That’s true.
-Now, it also looks like a fortress. Look at the crenellations
up there. -We were on the times
of the Moors and Christians fighting for
the same territories. -So they were still worried
about the Moors? -Oh, yes. They were.
They were. -So this is kind of
a double building — a church and a fortress? -Yes.

28 thoughts on “Coimbra, Portugal: Venerable University – Rick Steves’ Europe Travel Guide – Travel Bite

  1. Absolutely love Portugal, the food, culture, people and of course scenary! It's definitely going to get more and more popular once people start seeing more content on it ?

  2. One of my favourite cities in Europe! I went there thanks to Rick Steves' previous travel shows and I am happy to see it return in the latest edition.

    If you can, try to go there in September, at the beginning of the academic year. The streets will be filled with students dressed in black wooden capes and the atmosphere is magical.

  3. This is my beautiful city, which I love. Thank you for showing the world. I am a Portuguese citizen, proud of my city and my country. ??

  4. Absolutely fell in love with Portugal (my home land) !!! This was our first Rick Steves tour and we were lucky enough to have Christina as our tour guide. A trip that we will treasure for years❤

  5. We were there yesterday and did Rick Steeves walking tour. Beautiful city and great walking area. Amazing university as well. Highly recommend.

  6. Portugal has it's Unique Culture Beauty and History.!! They intend to live a simple life beyond the boundaries of Roman conquerors and their bunkers built on Human Corpses and Blood.!! Steve doesn't mention that very often perhaps Steve either doesn't want you to know or He himself doesn't know.!! But that is Ok.!! Knowledge is for You to know.!!

  7. Wonderful place, wonderful presentation,
    Rick steves is amazing person, I am personally like so much. ???

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