University of Coimbra

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Portuguese University

The University of Coimbra (Portuguese: Universidade de Coimbra) is a Portuguese state university in Coimbra, a city in central Portugal. It is one of the oldest universities in Europe and one of Portugal's most important higher education and research institutions. It is a member of the Coimbra Group, a group of leading European research universities, whose inaugural meeting it hosted.



The university was founded, or ratified, in 1290 by King Dinis, having begun its existence in Lisbon. The royal charter announcing the institution of the University was dated 1st March of that year, although efforts had been made at least since 1288 to create this first University in Portugal; it is thus one the oldest of such establishments in the Iberian Peninsula. The Papal confirmation was also given in 1290 (on 9th August of that year), during the Papacy of the Pope Nicholas IV. In accordance with the Papal Bull, all the "licit" Faculties, with the exception of that of Theology, could be established. Thus the Faculties of Arts, Law, Canon Law and Medicine were the first to be created.

It was, however, not to remain in Lisbon for long. In 1308, likely due to problems of emancipation from the Church (relations between the latter and the political power being somewhat strained at the time) and conflicts between the inhabitants of the city and the students, the University moved to Coimbra. This town already had old traditions in education, being home to the highly successful school of the Monastery of Santa Cruz. The university was then established on the site known as "Estudos Velhos", which corresponds roughly to the area where the Main Library now stands.

In 1338, during the reign of Afonso IV, it was once again transferred to Lisbon, from whence it returned in 1354, this time to the centre of the town which was then in full expansion. In 1377, during the reign of King Fernando, it was transferred yet again to Lisbon, where it would remain for over a century and a half. The authorization for a Faculty of Theology probably dates from this period - around 1380.

In 1537, during the reign of João III, the university moved definitively to Coimbra, where it was installed in the Alcaçova Palace. At the same time, a restructuring of the curricula was undertaken and new teachers, both Portuguese and foreign, were admitted.


Missing image
Tower of the University of Coimbra, at the Faculty of Law

The University's governance is assured by the Rector, Senate and University Assembly, the latter responsible for the election of the Rector and members of Senate. The Rector has the main responsibility for the strategic direction and overall administration of the University together with the Senate and assisted by the Administrative Council. The University of Coimbra is divided in eight different faculties (Humanities, Law, Medicine, Sciences & Technology, Pharmacy, Economics, Psychology & Teacher Training, Sports Sciences), comprising more than 20 000 students. Its hospital school, HUC (Hospitais da Universidade de Coimbra), is a leading european hospital, known as a centre of research and high-quality medical services. The university also harbours an huge central library, a stadium and sports complex, botanical gardens, an astronomical observatory, a private church and many support facilities such as dining halls and studying rooms.


Students are represented by the students' union Associação Académica de Coimbra (AAC). Formed on the 3rd November 1887, it is the oldest students' union in Portugal, with a long history of struggle against unpopular state policies, forming notable politicians and intellectuals along the way. It also harbours a very dynamic associative life, with its numerous sports (see below) and cultural sections being an important structure of extra-curricular formation. The latter include activities such as theatre, cinema, radio and television broadcast, music, choral singing, journalism or philately. Every student, and ocasionally some non-students, are entitled to belong to these sections.

Sports, clubs and traditions

Closely related with this old university are many academic traditions and institutions with a strong impact on the city's life. The old "Republics" (autonomous students' residences) remain, as well as some traditional festivities, most notably the "Queima das Fitas" (a celebration of graduation's end, symbolized by the burning of the ribbons with the colors of each of the eight faculties), the frequent use of traditional attire, the "Fado de Coimbra" (Coimbra's fado, now sung in organized shows rather than the traditional street serenades), and the academic ceremonies (namely the conferring of doctorate degrees).

The sports sections of the AAC play a significant role in Coimbra's sport life, often being the city's main representative in that area. They include rugby, handball, basketball, baseball, martial arts, athletics, gymnastic or swimming, among others. Just as with the cultural sections, every student, including professional or semi-professional athletes, may belong to them.

The city's main football club, usually known as "Académica" or "Briosa", is in formal terms an autonomous organism of the AAC and is called AAC-OAF, but in practical terms it is an independent club, only loosely connected to its mother institution. It is a relatively important team, especially as regards to its huge number of followers nationwide, and plays in the top portuguese football leagues, having been the first winner in history of the Portuguese Football Cup, in 1939.


Notable Professors and Lecturers

Notable professors and lecturers at the University include:

Nobel laureates

  • Egas Moniz, (1874 - 1955) Portuguese physician and neurologist. He received many honours and international recognition, culminating with the 1949 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology.


  • Pedro Nunes, (1502 - 1578) Portuguese mathematician who is considered to be one of the World’s top mathematicians of his time.
  • Carlos Mota Pinto, (1936 - 1985) Portuguese political figure.
  • António de Oliveira Salazar, (1889 - 1970) Prime Minister and Dictator of Portugal from 1932 to 1968.

Notable Attendees

Notable persons who graduated from or otherwise attended the University include:

  • Zeca Afonso, (1929 - 1987) Portuguese popular singer, composer and poet, a remarkable left-winger with strong anti-fascist beliefs and action, with a huge role in the Democratic Carnation Revolution.
  • António José de Almeida, (1866 - 1929) Portuguese political figure.
  • José de Anchieta, (1534 - 1597) Jesuit missionary, apostle of Brazil, writer and poet.
  • José Alberto de Oliveira Anchieta, (1832 - 1897) A 19th century Portuguese explorer and naturalist. (He dropped out of the University of Coimbra)
  • Christopher Clavius, (1538 - 1612) German mathematician and astronomer who was the main architect of the modern Gregorian calendar.
  • Almeida Garrett, (1799 - 1854) Portuguese romanticist and a writer.
  • João Mário Grilo, Portuguese film director born in 1958. (He dropped out of the University of Coimbra)
  • Bartolomeu de Gusmão, (1685 - 1724) Naturalist, recalled for his early work on lighter-than-air ship design.
  • Aristides Sousa Mendes, (1885 - 1954) Portuguese diplomat, who fought against his own government for the safety of European Jews in the years before World War II.
  • Manoel da Nóbrega, (1517 - 1570) Portuguese Jesuit priest and first Provincial of the Society of Jesus in colonial Brazil. He was very influential in the early History of Brazil, having participated in the founding of several cities.
  • Marquês de Pombal, (1699 - 1782) Prime Minister to King Joseph I of Portugal throughout his reign.
  • Eça de Queirós, (1845 - 1900) Portuguese novelist and short-story writer, one of the leading intellectuals of the 'Generation of 1870'.
  • Antero de Quental, (1842 - 1891) Portuguese poet.
  • Salgado Zenha, (1923 - 1993) Portuguese left-wing politician and lawyer.

List of faculties

List of some Research & Development units

Other students in Coimbra

Since 1988, there has been a second public institution of higher education in Coimbra, the Instituto Politécnico de Coimbra (, a polytechnic institute, whose entrance and teaching requirements are usually less demanding than the University of Coimbra's. There are also some private schools and institutes such as the Instituto Superior Miguel Torga (, the Instituto Superior Bissaya Barreto (, and the Escola Universitária Vasco da Gama (, which are not generally considered as prestigious as the university.

See also

External links

Coimbra Group
(of European research universities)
Coimbra Group
Aarhus | Barcelona | Bergen | Bologna | Bristol | Budapest | Cambridge | Coimbra | Dublin | Edinburgh | Galway | Geneva | Göttingen | Granada | Graz | Groningen | Heidelberg | Jena | Kraków | Leiden | Leuven | Louvain | Lyon | Montpellier | Oxford | Padua | Pavia | Poitiers | Prague | Salamanca | Siena | Tartu | Thessaloniki | Turku I | Turku II | Uppsala | Würzburg

es:Universidad de Coimbra de:Universität Coimbra pt:Universidade de Coimbra


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools