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40.2033° N • 8.4103° W

Visit the Joanine library: a book-lovers paradise

Time travel, City tips

You want to keep your favourite book in good shape for the next three hundred years? Then the Joanine Library has some tips for you!

The University of Coimbra in Portugal is the seventh oldest university in continuous operation in the world. We may already have visited the actual oldest – The Alma Mater – on our Mediterranean Route, but this one is an UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Why is it an UNESCO World Heritage Site? Visit the Joanina Library at Coimbra University and it will answer your question. Built in the early 18th century, this precious library shows everything that baroque Portugal had to offer. High ceilings, golden decoration and exotic materials from all over the world. It’s eye candy!

Since the library hosts priceless treasures, a special wood was used for the interior to regulate the humidity. Also they have another method for preservation. Every night the employees of the library cover the mahogany tables with leather cloth. What? Because the library is home to a colony of bats that fly around during the night and that are not very clean. Bats? In a library? Yes! They have a special mission: they eat all kinds of bugs that would otherwise chew on the precious books. What an idea!

Fun fact! Whenever students graduate at the Coimbra, their friends will rip off their clothes and the graduates have to run for it. Have a look at the main gate of the university, there you can spot pieces of clothes hanging in the grids.

Practical Information

Information about all the things to be explored at the University of Coimbra (coordinates: 40.2074°N 8.4265°W) can be found on their Visit UC -website. All the visits are subject to entry fees, which depend on the places you would like to see during your visit. Make sure that the Joanina Library, or the Baroque Library, is part of your ticket, as it is not included in all of the ticket variations.