WP_20150814_11_38_42_ProCoimbra, the second capital of Portugal (succeeded by Lisbon), is a fascinating place. Apart from some lovely river side parks and an historic centre, it has Portugal’s oldest University, which is perched on top of the steep hill at the centre of the old town, from where it dominates both the skyline and overall impression of the town. It also has university students who, as elsewhere in Portugal, wear long black cloaks over black suits and white shirts; very much in the style of Harry Potter and Co. (or should that be the other way around?).

We paid an interesting visit to the University, especially its OTT baroque library and other grand rooms (no photography allowed), which testify to its ancient past. We also had a lovely evening meal overlooking the river and paced our way through the city streets, including falling on an unusual fountain garden which was originally part of an adjacent religious centre and put together by one of Portugal’s’ most famous sculptors…

On the morning of our last day we also paid the Botanical Gardens a visit and these, like others I’ve visited elsewhere in the country, have an impressive range of mature trees, shrubs and other plants.

I found this tree fascinating; not sure of what it is, but it has developed a useful technique of growing its own buttresses as it extends its branches...

I found this tree fascinating; not sure of what it is, but it has developed a useful technique of growing its own buttresses as it extends its branches…

It was encouraging to see the major glasshouse in the course of regeneration and the novel introduction of an adventure trail with close supervision as you (not me!) slide your way around and between the many very tall trees.

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Old School Gardener

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