We stayed only one night in Coimbra and it was really meant to break up the drive from Lisbon to the Douro River Valley. It turned out to be much more than that and I wish we had another night and day to take a good long look around.

When we awoke after the night spent in our loft accommodation and threw open the shutters this is what greeted us. What a day.

I had found a local cafe online and so we set out for the Cafe Santa Cruz. It sounded like it would have authentic baked goods and good coffee. When we arrive on scene we found that it was located in a square with other notable buildings.

This was our view of the hotel across the square as we enjoyed our breakfast outside on a terrace.

However, the really stunning discovery was this.

Hint – that’s our cafe on the right. On the left, the Santa Cruz Monastery. It is a National Monument in Coimbra, Portugal. Because the first two kings of Portugal are buried in the church it was granted the status of National Pantheon.

Here’s an image courtesy of Wikipedia of the pipe organ inside of the Monastery.

It’s pretty difficult not to be impressed with the antiquity and history in Portugal.

Speaking of which,


These are reputed to be the best preserved Roman ruins in Portugal. To date, only 10% of the site has been excavated. Some of the earliest layers date back to the 9th Century B.C. The Romans arrived in the 2nd Century A.D. and conquered the Celtic inhabitants and began to build a remarkably intricate city, much of which remains intact at present. From the sturdy walls to the delicate tile flooring and the ornate gardens, this excavation and the on-site museum is a wonder to behold.

I don’t have anything witty to say and I will not bore you with a history lesson. Just take a moment and consider the fact that this site remains both beautiful and architecturally significant and enjoy what we saw.

For a short video of the ruins click here.

It was brutally hot at the ruins site, approximately 35 C. We were wilting when we got back in the car to continue our drive to Pinhau in the Douro River Valley.

We had arranged for 3 nights accommodation at the Quinta de La Rosa on the banks of the Douro River. Quinta is a Portuguese term meaning farm or farmhouse. Over the years it has come to mean a large tract of land, often a vineyard. The Quintas of the Douro River Valley in Portugal produce some of the world’s best port wine and some stellar table wines as well.

In the next installment, I will tell you about Pinhau and the Douro River Valley.

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