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In 1559, during the town's cultural flowering, this university was constructed and placed under the tutelage of the Jesuits. It flourished until the Jesuit-hating Marquês de Pombal closed it in the 18th century. The compound wasn't used as a university again until 1975.

The double-tiered baroque main building here surrounds a large quadrangle. Marble pillars support the arches, and brazilwood makes up the ceilings. Blue-and-white tiles line the inner courtyard. Other azulejos (tiles) depict women, wild animals, angels, cherubs, and costumed men, and contrast with the austere elegance of the classrooms and the elongated refectory.