Coimbra is both a city and municipality in the central area of Portugal. At the last census, taken in 2011, there was a population of 143,397, making Coimbra the fourth-largest urbanised centre in Portugal. The region of Coimbra comprises of 18 municipalities and is home to approximately 460,000 people.
The 18 municipalities (freguesias) within the region of Coimbra are:
- Antuzede e Vil de Matos
- Assafarge e Antanhol
- Coimbra (Sé Nova, Santa Cruz, Almedina e São Bartolomeu)
- Eiras e São Paulo de Frades
- São João do Campo
- São Martinho da Árvore e Lamarosa
- São Martinho do Bispo e Ribeira de Frades
- São Silvestre
- Souselas e Botão
- Santa Clara e Castelo Viegas
- Santo António dos Olivais
- Taveiro, Ameal e Arzila
- Torres do Mondego
- Trouxemil e Torre de Vilela
From 1131 to 1255, Coimbra was the capital of Portugal. There are many structures and buildings still remaining to be seen from this era, as well as the well-preserved aqueduct and cryptoporticus from the Roman era, when Coimbra was known as the city of Aeminium.
The first Monarch of Portugual, Afonso I of Portugal (Alfonso Henriques), has his final resting place in the Monastery of Santa Cruz in Coimbra. His parents were Henry of Burgandy and Theresa, the illegitimate daughter of Alfonso VI of León and Castile. During the 12th Century, Alfonso Henriques took over the running of the fertile lands with access to the river, funded the Santa Cruz Monastry, rebuilt the Roman Bridge and promoted the constuction of the old Cathedral. He proclaimed himself King on July 26th. 1139 and along with enhancing the fountains, roads, pavements etc he conceded a formal charter in 1179 to reinforce the power of the council of Coimbra.
There are plenty of places to visit around Coimbra:
- Arzila Swamo Natural Reserve
- Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra
- Santa Cruz Garden (Jardim da Sereia)
- 19th Century Quinta das Lágrimas
- Riverside parks & bathing areas along the River Mondego
- Old Cathedral of Coimbra
- Portugal dos Pequenitos (miniture village)
As with any large city, it has the facilities you would explect to find, including cinemas, swimming pools, various sports clubs, a variety of shops that cater for every need and a wide range of restaurants and cafes.
There are a number of schools in the region of Coimbra, both public and private, catering for ages from 6 to 18 years old. There is also a wide range of cresches available from 4 months to 3 years, and kindergardens (Jardim De Infância ) covering the 3 to 6 year age range.
The University of Coimbra is one of the oldest universities in the world, with continuous operation, and with over 20,000 students, it has one of the largest associations of international students in Portugal.