Coimbra reins over the River Mondego, and is known as a city of students, but it is also a city of pottery. The refined beauty of Coimbra pottery can be confused with none other. Coimbra pottery today is based on museum reproductions dating back to 15th century with polychromatic styles in geometric forms and images of rosters, fish and peacocks with Asian and Moorish influences. By the 17th century Vasco da Gama had returned from India and Chinese porcelain became known in Portugal. Chinese influence soon disappeared and a truly Portuguese style of colorful pottery began in Coimbra’s many workshops. By the 17th century Coimbra pottery offered reproductions of Portuguese hunting scenes, where feathers as well as wild animals such as boars, deer, rabbits and dogs can be seen. Within a century, the color of choice had become blue on white background.
Today, stores though out the Alta (Old Quarter) sell hand painted Coimbra pottery for a handful of local workshops. All are signed by the artist, and come with a century mark to show what style they are in. From the shops at the steps leading up to the city’s Romanesque old cathedral, to the artist cooperative in ha former tower of the city’s walls (A Torre do Anto) it is no challenge to find Coimbra pottery today – and enjoy it!The Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro offers a massive collection of the local pottery from the 15th century.