118km (73 miles) S of Porto; 198km (123 miles) N of Lisbon
Coimbra, known as Portugal's most romantic city, was the inspiration for the song "April in Portugal." On the weather-washed right bank of the muddy Mondego, this city of medieval churches is also the educational center of the country. Dinis I originally founded its university at Lisbon in 1290. Over the years, the university moved back and forth between Lisbon and Coimbra, but in 1537 it settled here for good. Many of the country's leaders were educated here, including Dr. António Salazar, dictator from 1932 to 1968.
Coimbra is at its best when the university is in session and the city radiates youthful energy. Noisy cafeterias, raucous bars, and such events as crew races lend a certain joie de vivre to the cityscape. You can make out who is a student because they wear black capes; their briefcases bear colored ribbons denoting the school they attend. (Yellow, for example, stands for medicine.)