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Portugal Day 6: Batlioteca and the Footsteps of the Romans

overcast 69 °F

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Walking up to the University of Coimbra was a bit of a climb, but we were able to get there pretty quickly using a direct route up stairs.
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Many of the buildings at the university date from the mid twentieth century, and were built under the rule of António de Oliveira Salazar, the dictator of Portugal who had been a professor at the University. These buildings, our AirBnB host told us, are controversial because houses were demolished to build them. They have a very uniform feel, and seem to form an imposing entry towards the old square of the University.
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Views of the old square, which is located in a former royal palace.
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Us in the square.
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The first part of our tour: knocking on the door of the chapel.
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Inside São Miguel chapel. It was a royal chapel but is now used by the university. They have masses regularly, which prevents tours from going through, but we were able to go in.
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A striking picture of the courtyard.
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The Joanine Library, which also includes the Academic Prison. The prison was used when students and faculty were convicted of crimes in order to prevent university scholars from having to associate with “common criminals.” The lower level of the library is used for storage of older books. The upper level is the room where students would have studied, and where there are beautifully decorated shelves and paintings. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures in that room. It is also famous because there are bats that eat the insects that could damage the books. The bats live behind the shelves and eat moths and other insects at night. Pieces of paper are set down on the tables to protect them from bat guano.
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The inside of the royal palace. One large room is used today for students who are defending dissertations: there was a student doing so when we toured.
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Some last views of Coimbra before we left. Also, a couple pictures of our car and our AirBnB.
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Next we visited the Roman ruins of Conimbriga. Coimbra is named after Conimbriga (in Roman times Coimbra was called Aeminium, and was renamed when Conimbriga was razed by the Suebi and the residents fled to Aeminium.
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The ruins are fascinating: baths, houses, mosaics, and other buildings.
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The Roman influence continues, in the form of gelato.
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We then drove to Porto. We are staying at the House of Sandeman, located immediately above their tasting room and port cellars. Our room is very nice and comfortable, despite the somewhat creepy painting.
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Porto is beautiful. At night, it feels like a city for making plots and schemes.
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We went out for dinner and a couple drinks. Catherine tried bacalhau com natas (cod with cream) for the first time, and really liked it. It was a beautiful night of talking and walking near the river. We can’t wait to see more of Porto tomorrow.

Posted by danielcatherine 12:40 Archived in Portugal Tagged palace bridge university port royal porto library bats chapel romans coimbra gelato conimbriga sandeman Comments (0)

Portugal Day 5: Cloisters and Fado

semi-overcast 85 °F

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We started our day with a breakfast that reminded us greatly of our Portuguese lessons. On each lesson some character would order bottles of water (Aguas minerais), some custard pastries (pasteis de nata) and a latte (um galão). This is what we got at a cafe called “The World Needs Nata.”
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Some views around the cafe, including the buskers who were playing across the street.
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The streets in Coimbra.
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Next we went to the Santa Cruz monastery, where much of the knowledge of the Portuguese explorers had been gathered and collected. It was founded by St. Teotonio/ Theotonius in 1131.
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Inside the church.
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The sacristy of the church. There was a great deal of artwork on the walls, and several very beautiful liturgical artifacts. The church appears to still be in use to some extent, as there are current liturgical books on some of the shelves.
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A side room with some religious art and relics. The “bust reliquary” in the middle holds the skull of St. Teotonio. The other two hold relics related to the Five Martyrs of Morocco, Franciscans who were killed for preaching the Catholic faith.
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The Chapter room where meetings took place, with its own altar.
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Some pictures of the cloister.
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The tile work around the walls.
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Tapestries.
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The relic sanctuary. This room was amazingly beautiful. It is highly symmetrical and perfectly arranged, but each element on the walls contains relics of various saints. It felt like something out of a fantasy novel.
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Some pictures at the sanctuary of the church, including the tombs of the first and second kings of Portugal, Afonso Henriques and his son Sancho.
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Some views of the street after we left. On our way up towards the old cathedral, we stopped at the Fado ao Centro and booked tickets for the show at 7:00 PM. We also stopped at the shop of an artist named Marcia Santos, who does illustrations with ballpoint pen. We purchased two of her drawings in frames to take home.
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Then we arrived at the Old Cathedral (the new one was built in the 17th century.)
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Inside the cathedral. Some tombs of various people, including a Byzantine princess who was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Saint Isabella (who lived in Coimbra at the end of her life).
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This little creature at the foot of the tomb of one of the bishops. Is it a shih tzu?
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The cloister at the cathedral.
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For some reason, the floor of the cloister is covered in “2”s.
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Outside the church.
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A little restaurant across from the cathedral where we had a quick snack: caldo verde, a popular Portuguese soup.
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The fado show was beautiful. Fado de Coimbra is distinct from other fado. The instrumentals were really impressive, as was the singing. After the show we got to drink some port wine and talk with the musicians. We bought a CD which they signed.
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After this we went towards the river for dinner and a short walk. It was beautiful at sunset.
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Gelato! Daniel got Azorean pineapple and mint, Catherine got Madeira banana.
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And then, another fado show! One of the musicians from the first one played at this one as well. However, it was different: this show was Fado de Lisboa, which has a female singer and a different kind of sound. We bought this CD as well. It was an amazing show and we really enjoyed learning about the different varieties of the music.

Posted by danielcatherine 03:48 Archived in Portugal Tagged sunset river cloisters cathedral music port dinner wine relics gelato fado pastel_de_nata galão Comments (2)

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