• Day32

    University of Coimbra - the Library

    October 5, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    We headed up to the University this morning to explore the campus. First thing we did was purchase tickets to enter the various buildings, and secured a time to visit the library. It is broadly accepted that this University was founded on 1 March 1290. For many years, the “General Studies” alternated between the two largest cities at the time, Coimbra and Lisbon. After three centuries of roaming, in 1537 the University settled definitely in Coimbra, as ordered by King João III. The University of Coimbra is Portugal’s oldest University, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We explored the large courtyard that has a statue of King João III, and has lovely views down to the river.

    We visited the library, known as The Old (Joanine) Library, at 11 am, as it is timed entry. There are three levels in the library. The Academic prison is on the first level. It was used until 1832, and was where students served time for having committed disciplinary offences. There is a middle floor, also called depository 4, which was used to keep books to which only a restricted group of staff had access. The top floor, referred to as the Noble Floor, is unbelievably ornate and contains thousands of books. It is divided into three sections, has three ceiling paintings, ornately carved columns supporting the shelves with lots of gold, and a royal portrait of King João V. Interestingly, there is a colony of bats that also reside in the library to keep the insects such as moths under control, as they can eat the books. Each night the tables and other furnishings are covered in leather sheets to protect them from the animal droppings. No photos were allowed on the Noble Floor.
    Read more