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Coimbra facts for kids

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Local Distrit Coimbra

Coimbra is a city in Portugal. It was the capital city of the country during the 12th century, and is home of the University of Coimbra, the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese language-speaking world.

According to the census of 2001, the city had a population of 101,069 inhabitants, and the municipality had a population of 148,443 inhabitants in a 319.4 km² land area. Over 430,000 inhabitants live in the Greater Metropolitan Area of Coimbra.

Among the many archaeological structures dating back to the Roman era, when Coimbra was the settlement of Aeminium, are its well-preserved aqueduct and cryptoporticus. Similarly, buildings from the period when Coimbra was the capital of Portugal (from 1131 to 1255) still remain.

During the Late Middle Ages, with its decline as the political centre of the Kingdom of Portugal, Coimbra began to evolve into a major cultural centre. This was in large part helped by the establishment the University of Coimbra in 1290, the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese-speaking world.

Coimbra has been called A cidade dos estudantes (The city of the students), mainly because it is the site of the oldest and one of the largest universities in Portugal – the University of Coimbra, a public university whose origins can be traced back to the 13th century. Nowadays, it has students from 70 different nationalities; almost 10% of its students are foreigners, making it Portugal's most international university.

Apart from attracting many European and international students, the university is visited by many tourists for its monuments and history. Its historical buildings were classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2013: "Coimbra offers an outstanding example of an integrated university city with a specific urban typology as well as its own ceremonial and cultural traditions that have been kept alive through the ages."


Coimbra celebrates its municipal holiday on 4 July, in honour of Queen Elizabeth of Portugal (spouse of the King Denis); a religious and civic celebration that celebrated the life of the former Queen, that includes a fireworks display.

Coimbra houses the following cultural institutions:

  • Machado de Castro Museum, the second most important one in Portugal, housed in the former Episcopal Palace
  • University of Coimbra General Library, Portugal's second biggest library, after the National Library in Lisbon
  • the 18th-century Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra

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