Thursday, November 3, 2016

Visiting University of Coimbra and the Barroque Library

In my recent visit to Portugal I had the opportunity to go to the University of Coimbra - Portugal, founded in the Middle Ages and known as the oldest university in Europe (1290).

Coimbra is a city full of life, students are everywhere, especially in October when they are starting the academic year. There are lots of events associated with the student’s homecoming and I was lucky enough to see them marching through the streets of the city. This was just one of the many students “rites of passage” to become part of the Coimbra academic fraternity.  

Where History Meets Youth

Situated on the top of the hill and surrounded by the medieval wall, the university is accessed through the "Porta Férrea", literally the Iron Door, leading to the main patio of the university where you have a view of the lower city and the Mondego river. 

Duca696 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
 By Alvesgaspar - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
By Alvesgaspar - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Joanina Library is named after King João V (1707-1750) who sponsored its construction. It is considered a masterpiece of the Portuguese baroque period and one of the richest libraries in European.

Isabella Baltar, Oct 2016.

The library building.
"The Noble Floor, completed in 1728, began receiving the first books after 1750, and currently its collection comprises some 40,000 volumes. The entire construction is aimed at conservation of library collections, from the width of the outer walls to the use of wood inside. Also to in aid the conservation of books, there are two small colonies of bats that for centuries protected them from insects. 
Built with noble and exotic materials, brought from all over the world, the symbolism attributed to its decor are a tribute to the magnanimity and power of King John V and the Portuguese Empire, whose repository of knowledge was headquartered here in the King’s University. It was used as a place of study from 1777 until the mid-20th century, until the General Library opened in 1962." (

World heritage recognized by UNESCO since 2013, this was the video that was submitted by the University of Coimbra in its application:

University of Coimbra - Application for UNESCO World Heritage

Visiting the University of Coimbra:

Learning more about the University of Coimbra:

UNESCO and the University of Coimbra - Alta and Sofia

1 comment:

  1. Amazing pictures! Would love to hear more about your trip!