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Colégio de São Jerônimo

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A hidden building in the university

Published by Ethel Rudnitzki — 2 years ago

The University of Coimbra is one of the oldest in Europe and it has grown a lot through its 800 years of history. Nowadays it has three campus and more than 20 thousand students, but the main campus is the biggest (in number of students), the most famous and the most visited by tourists.

A hidden building in the university

But even this campus has its secrets. Besides the main building, that used to be the royal palace, the Joanina Library, the Chapel, and the main college buildings, such as the general Library, the Letters school, the Chemistry school, and Math’s building, there is another one, older than most of those, called Colégio de São Jerônimo.

A hidden building in the university

In this building there are some classrooms where history and journalism and communications students have classes. Also, inside it there is a museum that tells the history of the academic traditions in Coimbra: the Academic Museum. It is a truth hidden secret in the university.


Colégio de São Jerônimo was built in the 16th century and it was originally a monastery where monks from the S. Jerônimo order would live and pray. This religious order was typical of Portugal and Spain and it was really big in Lisbon - where their biggest monastery is (Mosteiro dos Jerônimos).

A hidden building in the university

The monks would live a contemplative life, dedicated to praying and studying. Therefore, it has always been a study place.

But it was only during the 18th century that it became part of the university, when the monks were expelled from the building and a hospital was inaugurated there, after renovations that destroyed the monastery’s chapel. The hospital was used by medicine students in their graduation and by all the academic community for treating diseases and sickness.

A hidden building in the university

It remained a hospital until 1970's, when the medicine school was transferred to another campus and the building went through renovations to become part of the Letter's school. Nowadays it has classrooms with communication equipment for journalism students, as well as study rooms and the Academic Museum.


Since it used to be a monastery, it kept its architecture, with a squared cloister, and private rooms.

A hidden building in the university

The cloisters became a winter garden for the students and the old hospital rooms became classrooms and teachers offices. The old chapel is now the building's entrance.


Although it is not a touristic attraction and it is a building in use, it is a great place to visit. Anyone can come in and out of it to see the structure and also the students real life outside the touristic route in the university.

A hidden building in the university

Also, you can visit the Academic Museum there to get to know the history of the traditions in the university. To get it you need to schedule a visit, but the collection is really interesting.

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