In the Centro de Portugal, Coimbra is to be found contemplating itself, a vain city looking at its own reflection in the water of the River Mondego. A city of courtyards, steps and medieval arches, the bohemian Coimbra, inhabited by students, is sung about and feted by many poets. Step forth boldly onto the stone steps, shaped by centuries of use, and plunge deep into the history of the city, where the old cathedral (Sé Velha) stands impressively before all those making their way up to the centuries-old University on the top of the hill. Its most iconic feature, the Library, with its baroque architecture dating from the reign of Dom João V, reminds us of a chapel with its frescoes and carved and gilded woodwork.
Are you interested in art? The National Museum of Ancient Art has some remarkable works on display made by Portuguese artists, such as the Belém Monstrance, and others that record the Portuguese legacy in the world, such as the Namban Screens. Two of the exhibits that you cannot afford to miss are Hieronymus Bosch’s famous triptych entitled “The Temptations of St. Anthony” and Dürer’s portrait of St. Jerome. At the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, discover the art of Egypt and Mesopotamia and the works of Rubens, Rembrandt and Monet.