This center of learning at the University of Coimbra was founded in 1290 and is built on what was once a royal palace.
Founded by Dom Dinis, the University was transferred between Lisbon and Coimbra during the reigns of several monarchs until it was definitively established in this city in 1537, by King Dom João III. Since then, it has continued to occupy the same buildings, the former mediaeval royal palace, acquired by the university in 1597.
The subjects studied here were theology, medicine and law until the 18th century when the Marquês de Pombal changed the educational system and introduced other subjects. Today, the University has seven faculties - Arts, Law, Medicine, Science and Technology, Pharmacy, Economics and Psychology and Educational Sciences.
Standing in a most well-defended position overlooking the rest of the city, with a sweeping view over the River Mondego, the University today is a complex building, constructed around a central courtyard in which a number of features stand out because of their artistic value and symbolism. The entrance to the University is through the Porta Férrea (Iron Gate), an impressive Mannerist arch (1634), decorated the statues of the University´s patrons, the kings Dom Dinis and Dom João III.
In the center is the Via Latina, a Mannerist colonnade built in the 18th century and indicating that Latin was the "official language" formerly used inside this space. The entrance through the loggia leads to the Sala Grande dos Actos (the Ceremonial Hall), and in the corner is the famous Tower. Built in 1728, it can be seen from all around the city and has become its most distinctive landmark. It has four bells, which used to regulate the routine of academic life and that of the city itself. The tower has always been called by the students as "a Cabra" (the goat).