Nestled in the heart of the University of Coimbra, the Joanina Library is a true baroque gem, widely regarded as one of Europe’s most stunning libraries.
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💡 The Captain’s tip 💡
Curious about Coimbra’s history? Captain Ulysses highly recommends this free guided tour of the capital (in English). You can choose the tip you want to leave the guide—it’s entirely up to you!
Looking for accommodation in Coimbra? Take a glance at this handpicked selection of excellent-value hotels: accommodations in Coimbra.
Unveiling the History of the Joanina Library
Origins of the Joanina Library
An architectural masterpiece of the Baroque era and a sanctuary of knowledge, the Joanina Library in Coimbra owes its name to King João V of Portugal, who commissioned its construction in the 18th century. This royal vision of creating a university library of such grandeur showcases João V’s ambition to establish Portugal as a bastion of intellectual and cultural prominence.
Work on the library commenced in 1717 and reached completion in 1728, during the pinnacle of the Braganza dynasty, an era of unprecedented economic and cultural prosperity in Portuguese history. João V spared no expense, enlisting the crème de la crème of artisans from the period to fashion a library capable of rivalling the grandest libraries across Europe.
The Joanina Library: Past to Present
Situated within the University of Coimbra, one of the world’s oldest continuously operating universities, the Joanina Library houses around 60,000 volumes dating back to the 16th to 18th centuries, encompassing a vast array of disciplines from that time: philosophy, theology, law, medicine, and even the natural sciences.
Throughout the ages, the Joanina Library has been meticulously preserved, bearing testament to Portugal’s deep reverence for its cultural and intellectual heritage. Today, it not only stands as a premier tourist attraction but also serves as a vibrant hub for students and researchers at the University of Coimbra, fostering learning and scholarly pursuits.
Visiting the Joanina Library in Coimbra
Renowned as one of Europe’s most exquisite libraries, the Joanina Library is located within a stunning Baroque edifice nestled in the heart of the University of Coimbra.
Comprising three interconnected reading rooms, adorned with walls cloaked in resplendent bookcases crafted from exotic woods such as Brazilian oak and Asian teak, this architectural marvel houses a treasure trove of ancient volumes, adorned with intricate golden embellishments.
But these books are more than mere eye candy. The Joanina Library remains a hub of scholarly activity, where students and academics flock to peruse its invaluable pages.
Adding to the library’s allure, the ceilings of each room are masterpieces in their own right, adorned with paintings depicting allegorical themes intertwined with the rich history of the University of Coimbra.
The Joanina Library transcends the realm of a mere book repository. It stands as a true monument, an architectural gem, and a sanctuary of knowledge and research —a destination not to be missed by those exploring the University of Coimbra.
Getting to the Joanina Library
The Joanina Library is located within the heart of the University of Coimbra, majestically perched atop a hill overlooking the city center.
Getting to the university is a breeze from downtown:
On foot: Coimbra is a compact city, making it entirely feasible to walk to the university from the city center. However, be prepared for an uphill trek. It takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes on foot. Simply follow the signs marked “Universidade” or “Paço das Escolas,” the university’s main complex.
By bus: If you prefer to skip the ascent, you can conveniently take bus line 103 from the city center. The closest stops are “Universidade” or “Paço das Escolas.”
By taxi or Uber: Alternatively, you can opt for a taxi or Uber ride. Expect to pay around 5 to 10 euros for the journey from the city center to the University.
💡 Insider Tip 💡
The University of Coimbra is largely pedestrianized. Once you arrive, be prepared to explore the campus on foot!
Joanina Library Opening Hours
The visiting hours of the University of Coimbra vary depending on the season:
Fall – Winter (early October to early April): 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM / 2:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Spring – Summer (early April to late September): 9:00 AM – 7:30 PM
The University is closed on December 25th and January 1st.
Joanina Library Ticket Prices
Admission to the Joanina Library is included in the University of Coimbra ticket. Prices are as follows: 13.50 euros for adults (11 euros for visitors aged 65 and above, 6.75 euros for youths aged 7-18, and free entry for children under 7 years old).
Captain Ulysses enthusiastically recommends joining the guided tour: Guided Tour of the University of Coimbra.
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