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Arco da Almedina


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City entrance

Published by Ethel Rudnitzki — 2 years ago

A long time ago Coimbra was a medieval city, with a castle, city walls, kings, princesses, soldiers, and village where commoners would live and work. This can still be seen by the narrow street and old monuments in town, but the nobles and the wall has vanished.

Still, there is a city portal and tower, that used to be part of the great wall that surrounded the city, remaining. They are called Almedina's Arch and Almedina's Tower and they connect the downtown to the upper part of the city, where the old castle - which is now the university, and other historic monuments are.

City entrance

History

The Almedina Tower and Arch were built in the 11th century, after the christians reconquered the city and expelled the arabs from there. During that time, there were many invasions and medieval wars, so the walls were necessary to protect the city.

Arco da Almedina used to be the most important entrance to the city, where goods would come and go, as well as militars and guns to protect the city. Since it was a portal, it was also a vulnerable place in times of war. So, the Tower of Almedina was an important militar base, just on top of it.

The tower wasn't enough, and the city had to build another portal just in front of it to avoid invasions. It is called Porta de Barbacã and exists until this day.

City entrance

After that, no one else could get in Coimbra without the kings permission.

Architecture

Besides the history, the arch and tower of Almedina are really beautiful. Because of the wars they had to be reformed many times and they have elements of many architectural periods, such as roman, medieval, renaissance and manuelino style (typical portuguese).

They are mainly made of big rocks, just as any other wall. But since they were the most important tower and entrance in town, there are some beautiful details in it, such as the Saint Mary and baby Christ image just above the main portal (Coimbra is a very catholic city).

What else to see

Nowadays, around the Tower and Arch of Almedina there are many souvenir shops and fado houses, since it is a very touristic place.

City entrance

Between Porta de Barbacã and Almedina's Arch there is a nice square with a statue that pays tribute to Fado Music.

If you cross the portal leading downtown, you will be in one of the nicest streets of Coimbra, with many portuguese bakeries (pastelarias), cafés, restaurants and shops. On sundays there are art fairs that happen there. The street connects Praça 8 de maio to Largo da Portagem, two important and beautiful squares in town.

Also, if you enter the old walled city through the arch, you will find Quebracostas stairway, one of the biggest stairs in town, and if you go all the way up, you will be in Sé Velha, the old city cathedral.

City entrance

Therefore, besides the history, the tower and arch of Almedina is a very well located place and a must see while in Coimbra.

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