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Coimbra is the host city
date Feb 6, 2019
category ECA Canoe Polo European Championships 2019
The city of the students and Fado is the host of the 2019 ECA Canoe Polo European Championships 2019.

Coimbra holds a special place in the hearts of all the Portuguese. Rich in its history and said to be the oldest seat of learning in Portugal with a University founded on the 13th of August in 1290 by King Dinis.

This makes it one of the oldest in the world. Six of Portugal’s Kings were born here and in 1139 until 1256 it was the chosen capital of the country.

The original name in the Roman period was Aeminium, and it later developed under the influence of the greater nearby town of Conimbriga.

At first sight the town appears more devoted to commerce than learning but the skyline above the lower part of the city suggest its real purpose.

Its ancient buildings cling to the side of the hill that rises above the curves of the river Mondego, the ornate buildings of the famous University of Coimbra are its crowning glory.

The university is still the lifeblood of the city and the change in atmosphere is notable when the summer holidays come and the thousands of students head back to their hometowns

Besides the inevitable raucous nightlife and youthful activity typical of any university town, many of the town’s annual festivities revolve around the university and its students.

It is also home of the traditional music of Portugal – Fado– and with its own distinctive flavour, renowned for being more melancholy and having complex lyrics. Caped bards of the university, known collectively as the Tuna Académica often perform such concerts. On a night out in the city, which generally centres around the Largo da Sé Velha, Fado performers draw crowds to bars and the aforementioned Tuna give impromptu concerts on street corners known as seranatas. Of course international style clubs and bars also provide a great night out, some staying open until daylight.

Beyond the university, Coimbra has much else to offernot least an array of medieval churches.

Accessing the old part of the city through the Arco de Almedina, we find two cathedrals known as Se Velha (old) and Se Nova (new) referring to their respective ages, and though the ‘new’ one dates back to the 17th century its senior was founded in 1170.

The Igreja da Santa Cruz is a perfect example of more elaborate architecture. Much of the Manueline style it boasts, which replaced the original Romanesque features dating from its founding in the eleven hundreds, are the product of serious remodelling in the early 16th century. The most impressive features are product of the skills employed from an acclaimed sculpture school that existed in the city at the time, notably the royal tombs and the intricate pulpit.

For the romantics among us, the Quinta das Lagrimas is an attraction as it was here, the Camões poem tells us, that the tragic love story of Portugal – that of Dom Pedro and his Spanish mistress Inês de Castro – took place in the 13 hundreds. The Portuguese ‘Juliet’ was reputedly killed in these gardens on the orders of the disapproving King, father of Dom Pedro. Distraught, the young prince made his courtiers kiss the hand of the beautiful young corpse. The two were finally united and now lay in the monastery of Santa Maria in Alcobaça.

Coimbra also boasts the largest botanical gardens in the whole of Portugal and one of the most beautiful in Europe, with terraced formal gardens and areas full of densely populated foliage including many exotic trees. The13 hectares of garden dedicated to the study and protection of plants and wildlife is linked to the Natural History Museum and was established in the late 18th century.

Another unique attraction in the town is the Lilliputian-like world of Portugal dos Pequenitos in which houses from every corner of the country and beyond are recreated in miniature. The fascinating collection includes palaces, castles, a Brazilian pavilion and a replica of the 16th century House of Diamonds from Lisbon.

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