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Capela de São Miguel

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University chapel

Published by Ethel Rudnitzki — 2 years ago

The University of Coimbra is a very traditional college, and that includes religious and historic tradition. Evidence of that is the Capela de São Miguel, a private chapel dedicated to the students and the academic community.

The chapel is located inside the main building of the university, which has also been a portuguese royal palace, so, besides the religous bond, it also has a lot of history.

University chapel


But the capela de São Miguel's history is even older than that. There used to be a chuch in the exact same spot as the chapel during the 7th century, built by after the reconquer of Portugal by christians from the arabs. It used to be a private oratory place for the nobles who lived in the palace.

The place was dedicated to São Miguel, just as it is today, just as all other royal portuguese chapels, since this saint was the one to who the soldiers would pray for before medieval wars, and it is believed that he was their protector.

University chapel

When the university was transfered to Coimbra, in the 15th century, the chapel was reformed and became what we know today. It gained other religious symbols and it became a place for the students, with saints and figures relating to studies and academic life.


The chapel has Manueline style of architecture, a typical portuguese construction inspired by the king Manuel I, who made many reforms in the country.

It is white with a rock sculpted portal on the outside. Inside, the chapel is covered with portuguese blue, white and yellow tiles on the walls and has paintings on the ceiling. The main altar is made of wood and painted with gold and has many images and figures, including São Miguel on the top. There are two small altars on the sides and they are a tribute to the students.

University chapel

São Miguel chapel also has a beautiful wood organ and the windows are covered with red curtains that protect the old church from the sun. Still it is a very well illuminated place, with top windows from where the light can come in.

University chapel

It is a very colorful and happy chapel, and definetly a must see in Coimbra.


The chapel is open for visits everyday from 9 am to 5 pm. The visit is included in the ticket for all the other attractions on the university main campus - such as Biblioteca Joanina, Paço Real and Museu da Ciência. The price for the general entrance is 12 euros, and 9 euros for reduced price (available for students under 25 years old, elder people or disabled people). If you study in the University of coimbra, though, you don't need to pay anything.

Visitors can also attend the religious ceremonies that take place there every sunday at midday. Other ceremonies such as weddings and baptisms can happen there by scheduling, but only people who are (or were) from the academic community of Coimbra can do so.

Capela de São Miguel is a very traditional place in the university, and it is unmissable while in town if you like history or even just like to see beautiful places.

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