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A "Cabra" - Bell from the University Tower

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A "Cabra" - Bell from the University Tower

Published by Mafalda J. Barata — 9 years ago

The University of Coimbra is one of the oldest in the world and still functional. You can find many places talking about it. But the tower alone, build around 1728 and 1733, 34 meters high, it's a must see you cannot avoid.

To us, university students, the bell is called Cabra (goat in English).

It was meant to wake the students up, so they basically started calling the clock bell "qué cabra! " which for us is “what a bitch! ”. And so it stays for hundreds of years.

We even have the university newspaper named "A Cabra".


The bell can be seen almost from everywhere and it can be visited at the Sé Velha, near the university, present at the video.

Curiosity: if you watch the clock from the front, you will see nothing more than a big clock, but from a certain angle, with a bit of imagination, the tower looks like an owl with clocks for eyes. It’s been said that those who spot the owl and drink at night, will not fail the exams in the present year.


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Best view in Coimbra

Published by Ethel Rudnitzki — 2 years ago

The most iconic element of Coimbra's skyline is the University's clock tower, also known as "Cabra" by the locals.

It is located on the highest point of the city and right in the middle of the main campus of the University. Therefore, it is very important to the city.

Best view in Coimbra

Tradition and history

Its importance traces back to many centuries ago, when there was no celphones or even watches to show us the time. Cabra used to be the only thing that guided the people from Coimbra.

Specially for the students, since the clock tower is part of the university and the whole life in Coimbra revolves around it, Cabra used to follow them through their routine, and its bells would ring every 15 minutes, and also many times on full hours, to remind them the times of classes.

Best view in Coimbra

The cabra bells would mix with other clocks in town - on the many churches that exist in Coimbra - when full hours were completed, so they used to be the loudest and most exact. But, to avoid delays related to the clocks, classes used to start 15 minutes after their actual hour, and the only Cabra would announce the real beggining of study hours.

It used to be played by a person whose duty was called cabra (where the name comes from), who was the most important worker in the university.

Nowadays the clock tower still show the time and the bells ring every quarter of hour, even though with celphones it is not so necessary anymore. Also, the classes still begin a little before than scheduled, to keep up with the tradition.


It is possible to visit the Cabra and climb to its top nowadays. You will have to purchase tickets (only 1 euro if you have visited other academic attractions in town) and to climb many narrow stairs, but it will be worth it.

Besides being in such a traditional place, the view from up there is amazing. You can see the whole city and admire a 360º perspective of it.

Best view in Coimbra

You will be in the highest point in town, so you can see everything from the top: the Mondego river, the university, the houses and churches... Really beautiful.

Best view in Coimbra

I reccomend visiting it during the end of the afternood and see the sunset from there.

During windy days and on the winter, the cabra is closed for visitations because it can be dangerous. On sunny and summer days, it is a must see in town.

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