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Sé Velha

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Medieval church

Published by Ethel Rudnitzki — 2 years ago

In the heart of the city of Coimbra there is a church called Sé Velha, the oldest among the 50 churches in town and full of history in its walls.

It used to be the city's cathedral until the 18th century, when it was transfered to Sé Nova, a bigger and more modern church. Still, it is one of the most important churches in town and it was also a monastry many years ago.

Medieval church


Sé Velha was built in the 12th century, after they expelled the arabs from the region.

Coimbra was an important city during the roman occupations since the 1st century, being close to the capital of Roman Iberic empire, Conimbriga. The city used to be an political headquarters for the reign - ruins of the administrative buildings can be visited in Museu Machado de Castro.

When it was renconquered after the arab occupation, the christians decided to build a big church to claim their conquer. So, they built the cathedral and its cloisters in a very romanesque style.

Since that, many important events took place there. The second king of Portugal was crowned there in the 13th century and the first portuguese bishop is burried in the church.

Medieval church

Nowadays it is an historic monument, open for visitations every day. And there are still some religious ceremonies that take place there, but since the cathedral was transfered, it is not the most important church in the city anymore.


Besides the amazing history, the church is very beautiful. On the outside it looks like a great fortress, made of rocks and with square towers, really typical to the Middle Age and romanesque architectures.

If you look it from a distance, though, you can see the beautiful dome on top of the church, covered with tiles and with a cross on its top.

Medieval church

Inside the church, small windows and stained glass don't let many light come in, but that makes the environment even more medieval. With rock pillars and a stunning golden altar, you feel in the Middle Age when visiting there.

There are also some chapels around the main aisle of the church, where you can see medieval paintings and statues.

You can also visit the cloisters of the church, which are typical of a monastry, disposed around a square backyard with pillars and small rooms. Inside those you can find the tomb of portugal first bishop: Bernudos.

From the cloisters you can also see the church tower and the University of Coimbra. Great view!

What to do in Sé Velha

Medieval church

Visiting the church is a must do in Coimbra. To get in you must pay 2, 50 euros, which pay for the church's restorations. Totally worth it!

Also, around the Sé Velha there are many nice things to see and do. Surrounding the church there are many bars and pubs, great for hanging out at night, and nice restaurants. Can you imagine drinking and eating with a view to such a historic church.

The neighbourhood, is a nice place to visit as well. Since it is very old and close to the university, there are many student houses there, the so called republicas.

Moreover, since Sé Velha is a must see for visitors (an residents as well), there are many souvenir shops and tourist attractions around it. You can find fado houses and cute shops there.

Last but not least, Sé Velha square leads to Downtown Coimbra, but to get there you must go through Quebracostas, a huge stairway, very famous in town. In the end of it you will find Arco da Almedina, the last piece of the Wall that used to surround the city in the Middle Age.

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