Portugal: Introducing the University of Coimbra

The National Trust of Portugal

Education in Portugal was in the XIII century taught in religious institutions, including in the monasteries. It was the subject of the Church and the Pope. 

On January 6, 1289, the most powerful abbots and priors of the Portuguese Church asked the Pope to establish a General Studies (University) in Portugal.

It was said in the document that the request sought to prevent many young Portuguese people leaving the country to go to attend higher studies in the 2 or 3 Universities existing then in Europe.

The creation of the University in Portugal was ordered on March 1, 1298, by King D.Dinis, with the appointment of General Studies. Nearly a century after the birth of the Portuguese nation, in the year of 1140.

By signing the “Scientiae thesaurus mirabilis”, that is recognised in the same year by Pope Nicholas IV,  the  king D.Dinis founded in Lisbon what came to be the oldest Portuguese University, being one of the 10 oldest in continuous operation in Europe and one of the world’s oldest. Initially in Lisbon, the university was transferred by the king’s orders to Coimbra in early séc.XIV, more precisely in 1308.

600px-Coimbra_December_2011-19aInitially installed in the ancient Moorish Alcazaba and then the Royal Palace, the architectural ensemble of its older buildings have centuries of history, and teaching of knowledge. It is a mythical place of learning. Its walls retain the past and positively influence the construction of the future.

Most notable is the Library building, called the “Baroque Library” of King John V. Built in the Baroque architectural style, this library, furnished prodigiously richly, houses over a million books, including many precious old and rare ones. Besides scholarly research, the space is still often used for concerts, exhibitions and other cultural events.

It is a highlight to visit the university city, which, in addition to the student population, is annually visited by many thousands of visitors. It has consistently been ranked among the world top 3 Portuguese speaking universities.

During more than seven centuries of existence, the university today is a landmark institution, and is currently linked to gestation of science, technology and the dissemination of Portuguese culture in the world.

The University of Coimbra, with its surroundings, has a unique tangible and intangible heritage and is a cornerstone in the history of European scientific culture and the world. The University of Coimbra has applied for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

The Portuguese National Trust, recently associated with INTO, is working in the research and listing of the historical monuments and the state of conservation in the national territory.

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