At the end of my last post, I mentioned dreading the loooong steep walk up the hill to the University of Coimbra. There is a "elevador" that you can catch up and down the hill, but it was closed for repairs at the time if our visit. Sigh. Anyway, even though we'd already had a quick look at the University the previous day, I figured that if we were to see one site in Coimbra, it had to be the University and some if its most famous structures.
On our visit the previous day, we came up the opposite way, directly to the "Pátio das Escolas", the main courtyard. This time we entered via the "Porta Ferrea", the Iron Gate afterr buying tickets to the various sites in the bookstore.
There are limits on visitors so, you need to get tickets and times set-up. The University was founded in 1290, so of course many traditions have been established like Queima das Fitas - The Burning of the Ribbons and Festa das Latas (The Tin Can Parade). Entering through the Gate you'll come to the bright and impressive Courtyard. This actually used to be the courtyard of the Coimbra Royal Palace which was turned over to the University by King John (João III) in 1537. The reflection of the sun on white can almost blind you at times. And that is a statue of John III, back to the Mondego River standing isolated in the middle of the courtyard.
In 2013, the University became listed on UNESCOs World Heritage List. Click on the photo below to enlarge.
There were a couple of buildings we wanted to check out. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed, so I'll try to do links to other sites so you can get an idea of how the place looks. For me, the one building I just had to see was the Biblioteca Joanina, built by King John V (João V), also know as "John the Magnanimous". One look in this beautiful library and you'll know why he had that nickname.
A walk through the ornate rooms illustrates what a great power Portugal once was. What I found really interesting was the prison under the library. The University had its own police and courts, so naturally it had its own prison for students and faculty.......
Next door behind the facade (you actually enter to the right of the doorway) is Capela de Sao Miguel - St Michael's Chapel. There's a beautiful and ornate pipe organ in the chapel.
Up the stairs of the building that faces John III and down the hallways called the "via Latina" you'll find Sala dos Capelos - The Grand Hall. You'll look down upon what used to be the palace throne room and became an examination room. You can get some great views looking out the windows of the catwalk above the room.
We enjoyed our time visiting the university, but man, I was getting hungry......
So we wound our way back down to our hotel and along one of the many alleyways, on Rua das Padeiras we saw this little shop.
It's pretty easy to see how it caught my eye, right?
Plus, in spite of my lack of linguistic ability.....the big joke is that I can't say much except thank you and hello....but boy can I name the various food items. Leitao was one of those words within my grasp......it basically means suckling pig, and this was Porkugal, I mean Portugal.
Soon enough my sandwich arrived.....it was a pretty hefty one at that! The most interesting thing was the glass of, well, something that accompanied my sandwich. A quick taste, I'm glad I didn't chug the thing, and it was quickly identified as pork drippings/sauce/juice/mother's milk, whatever you want to call it. It was on the salty side, though when drizzled on the pork it became "elixir of the gods...or swine". The bread was pretty good, the pork a bit dry and bland without the "juice", the skin on the hard side.
I was still in that pork and beer for breakfast mode since Lisbon, so it only seemed natural that I order a Sagres as well. While this was nowhere as good as my Bifana and beer from Beira Gare it did fine by me.
Boy does this country love its pork.......and I was taking good advantage of it!
António dos Leitoes Porta Larga
Rue das Padeiras 35
After lunch it was time to head back to our room for a pork induced nap.....