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Again in Coimbra, this is the old campus of the university. On the right stands the faculty of letters (or literature, I am not sure if the literal translation of letras (letters) makes sense in English), and on the back are the older buildings of the university, now only used by the rectory, the faculty of law and the old library.

The old part was successively a Roman forum, a Moorish palace or fort, a royal palace of the first Portuguese kings and then on the 16th century it was definitely given to the university. Most of what can be seen today is the result of the reconstruction made then.

On the 1950's the university was much expanded, by building a series of new buildings, one of them being the faculty seen here at right. On the 1990's there was another major expansion, but this time they choose to build away from the city centre.

The university is the oldest in Portugal and it is still one of the more prestigious ones, both in and out of the country. It is also one of the oldest of the world; most sources state that it was founded in 1290, but considering that it was originally founded in Lisbon, I wonder if it isn't a century older, because the in the rectory of the main university of Lisboa there is a bronze inscription some 50 years old that claims that the foundation occurred in 1186.

Much of the life of the town comes from the university and lately from other superior schools. I am not sure of the exact numbers, but taking into account the thousands of students, teachers and other employees of the university, I think that much more than half the population works, study or both in the university. For someone like me that didn't study there, but had some familiarity with the town (and ended up marrying someone that was born, raised and educated there), the university and some of its students and teachers, it is charming to notice the prevalence of a certain mentality that is a mix of intellectual and scientific excellence with a touch of small town way of life and thinking.

The tower with the flag on the top has been popularly known among generations of students as Cabra (female goat, which in Portuguese has much the same connotation of "bitch" in English) and its bell, that was used to wake up the students and call them for classes, was known as the Cabrão (male goat, which is more commonly used as an obscene word to designate either a husband betrayed by his wife or a villain).

Links to Wikipedia: Coimbra, University of Coimbra, List of oldest universities in continuous operation

Link to all my TE posts of Coimbra: http://www.trekearth.com/members/stego/photos/Europe/Portugal/North/Coimbra/

Location (latitude, longitude): 40.20793,-8.42531

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Additional Photos by Jose Pires (stego) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4422 W: 612 N: 7301] (24132)
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