Tag Archive: coimbra


Saw these rather interesting examples of ‘public art’ in a part of Coimbra, Portugal, recently..

Old School Gardener

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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

WP_20150814_13_52_49_ProAs you may have picked up, I’ve been in Portugal again  recently. As well as visiting some old favourites, we ventured north to the old capital of the country, Coimbra (more on this in later posts), and on our way back to Lisbon stopped off at a wonderful historical site called Conimbriga. This site, a few miles south of Coimbra, was the Romans’ capital while they were here in Portugal, some two millenia ago.

OK, I know that this blog is supposed to be about gardens and gardening. But I occasionally feature something that is only loosely connected (if at all), just to add a bit of variety. And in truth, there is a link to gardening here, as you’ll see later.

This extensive site displays the bones of an important Roman settlement and includes some sensitive reconstruction to help you get the scale and proportions of the place- the recreation of the Forum is particularly impressive.

And the other immediately remarkable thing is the wealth of mosaic floors on show, some open to the air, others carefully protected under a large sheltering canopy.

But the really noteworthy feature- well I think so- is the re-creation of the Fountain Gardens, including (for 50 cents a go) the chance to see the way the fountains might have embellished this calm, sheltered space set amid the bustle of the wider settlement.

After touring the open site, it was something of a relief (from the sun) to get inside the nearby Museum, which helps add further interpretation to the site and houses a range of beautiful artefacts discovered here.

Old School Gardener

 

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