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Places to Visit Details

Coimbra, Portugal

The historic hilltop university in Coimbra is just one reason to visit this venerated Portuguese city. But the wealth of additional visitor attractions, much of them clustered around the Velha Universidade, classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, merits a full day's sightseeing.

The undoubted highlight of a tour of the old university campus is the stunning Biblioteca Joanina, a Baroque gem of gilded and marbled wood and frescoed ceilings. You can also climb to the top of the 18th-century clock tower for a giddy perspective over the entire area. Your exploration should include the imposing late 12th-century Se Velha (old cathedral). Back in the old town below, there are further historic buildings to discover, among them two former convents and the Igreja de Santa Cruz, consecrated in 1131, which contains the tomb of Portugal's first king, Afonso Henriques.

Elsewhere are a number of interesting museums; a botanical garden; and the fun-filled Portugal dos Pequenitos, a park containing scale models of the country's most prominent traditional buildings.

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