Coimbra and the area

In Portugal on December 8, 2008 by cubsur51 Tagged:

Coimbra December 2008
These are photos taken in and around the city on December 3rd and 4th 2008. As you can see it was a very gloomy and wet time so the quality of the pictures is not too wonderful.
For rail buffs, a picture of the expanse of the railway station at Figueira da Foz, a seaport on the coast nearby. Seven platforms for about 25 trains a day.
In the depot I just glimpsed a nicely painted railcar but I don’t know it’s purpose. I doubt it is in regular passenger service.
Many lines in the area still have semaphore signalling, lower- quadrant signals at that. Peering through the rain and gloom at Coimbra – A, the signals have just re-set after a train left.
Rail buffs will also be interested in the little line that runs from Coimbra Parque station to Serpins. I couldn’t get many pictures as the weather was too bad. It runs rather like a bus, up hill and down dale, stopping every few minutes at places which are often not much more than a slab of concrete in the middle of nowhere.
[This railway has since closed down following the failure of a slightly mad scheme to convert it to a ‘tram-train’ operation. So no more wrong way street running in Coimbra.]
Serpins itself sits in a wooded hilly area. Low cloud clung to the hills and the rain was driving down in torrents! Much of the scenery reminded me of a sub-alpine area. The houses have steeply pitched roofs and balconies quite reminiscent of Austria and Northern Italy.
Buarcos beach Figueira da Foz
This is the seaside of Coimbra, about 27 miles to the west. A huge, wide sandy beach but absolutely deserted on a wet and windy day. There can be fewer bleaker prospects than a seaside beach in the depths of winter.
Coimbra is a city of about 150,000 people in the centre of Portugal. it’s about 130 miles (210km) north of Lisbon and 76 miles (125km) south of Porto. It has been occupied since Roman times – for more read this Wikipedia article –
The well-kept remains of the aqueduct once used to bring water to the city on top of the hill can be seen. The old city is built on a very steep and tall hill. The castle once stood where the University buildings now stand. Several old apartment blocks cling precariously to the sides of the hill – note the bracing struts under the building in the middle of the picture.
The Barbican gate and Medina gate were once the main entrances into the fortified city. It was occupied by the Moors for nearly 300 years, hence the Medina. Within the city are many interesting buildings – the little courtyard of the Sta Casa de Misericordia harks back to Roman and Moorish times.
The ‘Quarrel Tower’ dates from the 14th Century and has been converted into a private residence.
The city has two large semi-ornamental gardens. The larger is the Botanical garden and this is just one shot of the huge space it occupies.
You know Coimbra is a university city. The grafitti is more literate than most. There is a funicular railway to get you up the hill to the University.
A smaller garden is the Jardim de Santa Cruz. This must once have been a rather well kept ornamental garden, with statues, fountains and paths. Nowadays it looks rather sad and neglected, especially on a cold, wet day. The trees and shrubs were a green, dripping, mass of vegetation. Many of the statues and tiles have crumbled and broken over the years.
Some of the tiled murals are a bit fanciful featuring elephants, some depict biblical scenes and some are just plain odd. I really don’t know what the general idea behind them might have been.
The hilly nature of the city and its surroundings makes for some good roofscapes. Pity once again about the weather!
Back down in the city are nice shopping streets, the 12th century St Tiago church and many narrow little streets and impossibly steep slopes!
Coimbra still has trolleybuses. Only two routes are still operating, but all round the city the trees and trolley wires are high up and close together.
The University dominates proceedings, sitting high up on the hill. The University was established in the 13th century but the present buildings are 18th century and later.
Next weekend’s update will be of the work taking place in the old town centre of Albuferia.

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