Viking’s Douro river cruise starts out with a two-night stay in Lisbon, followed by a bus transfer to the ship in Porto. Along the way, there’s a stop about midway in Coimbra where we visited Portugal’s prestigious Coimbra University. The college was established in 1290 in Lisbon and relocated multiple times, but it’s been permanently located in Coimbra since 1537. We entered the main campus through the Palace Gate:
This video provides a close-up of the student clothing tied to the top of the gate as part of initiation ceremonies:
Bells were ringing in the tower on the day of our visit in commemoration of a late faculty member’s funeral being held in the chapel:
Most of the buildings surrounding the courtyard date from medieval times and had once been part of a former royal palace. The Brutalist style building at the bottom left of these photos was added during the 20th century reign of the Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar, who was a professor at Coimbra before entering politics.
The highlight of any visit to the University is the Johannine Library, which was built during the early 1700s and is an absolute marvel. This is the entrance to the library – the door is teak – with the national coat of arms on top:
Photography is not allowed inside the library, though of course images can be found on the internet including this photo, which shows some of the library’s rich, elaborate decor and two-story bookshelves:
Afterwards we enjoyed a quick stop in the city center for some high-speed souvenir shopping. We were under such a time crunch that if I’d taken any pictures of our shopping I think that they would have all been blurry! The tiles and pottery there were just too hard to resist and we were fortunate to get them all home without anything breaking. Before discovering the ultimate local craft shop there, we did pause long enough to enjoy the display of holiday cakes, meringues, and pastries in a bakery window:
It’s a good thing that we didn’t indulge ourselves at the bakery. Viking next took us to a local restaurant for a marvelous, wine-enhanced lunch where we enjoyed Fado music performed by professors and students from the University.
The wine and the rich food set us up well for a doze on the remaining leg of our drive to Porto, where we boarded our ship on the Douro.
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