Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Velha, Coimbra

4.5
#3 of 15 in Historic Sites in Coimbra
Inundated and hidden by centuries of floods, Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Velha now stands as a preserved example of Gothic religious architecture. Constructed during the 1300s, the building succumbed to constant flooding of the Mondego River by the 17th century. Visit the abandoned monastery, which was excavated during the latter half of the 20th century, and you'll be greeted with a near-complete complex restored to viewable condition. Wander through the church on the raised platforms within, and you'll see naves, cloisters, chapels, and courtyards--giving you an idea of how the building appeared when the waters finally swallowed it. Stop by the visitor center for more background information on the founding, construction, and history of the convent, as well as a display of artifacts found at the site. Choose to start, finish, or center your holiday on a trip to Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Velha by using our Coimbra trip builder.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
501 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • August 19, 2017
    It is near the river that flooded over the centuries until it was abandoned and rebuilt on higher ground. The entrance is on the side of the archaeological museum attached, away from the Central bridge over the Mondego. Things to walk but well worth it. Spectral architectures sometimes!
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  • August 19, 2017
    I thought it was a very interesting visit. It allowed us to see a detail of the history of Portugal, not only of Queen Elizabeth but of life in the monasteries and the history of the city of Coimbra. The visit includes a documentary (in Portuguese subtitled in English), an exhibition of everyday objects found in the monastery and visit to the ruins. Despite being a monastery in ruins, it is well established and is perfectly accessible for all audiences. It is a pleasant walk and a very interesting visit. At least in August, it is easy to park free in the surrounding area if you are by car.
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  • August 17, 2017
    The Mosteiro itself has been painstakingly restored, having been flooded in the past. It is a very atmospheric old place. There is a centre at the entrance - very modern concrete design - containing a...  more »
Google
  • Beautiful place indeed, both the cloister ruins as the abbey itself. Interesting museum as well. Must see for any one interested in history. Cheap tickets too
  • You will be fascinated by the old monestry building and its history regarding the river and consistent flood. Don't miss the museum filled with rich items found at the ruins.
  • We were really lucky to be accompanied by a local guide who explained each detail about the building, the life in the monastery before the flood and how it was recovered. Perfect!
  • The place is just gorgeous. It was unfortunately built in a flooded zone and was abandoned by the nuns after a few centuries. Grandiose architecture, go tour it, watch the movie.
  • Not amazing but still OK to visit if you find yourself on that side of the river. To find the entrance go all the way around the complex.

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Where to stay in Coimbra

Indulge in the medieval splendor of Coimbra by booking a hotel in the city's historical hilltop and hillside central area, which is home to the majority of its hotels and guesthouses. By staying right in the middle of the Old Town, you'll have medieval monasteries, Renaissance homes, and Baroque halls right at your doorstep. You'll also be within walking distance of the city's famed university complex. Alternatively, try staying in one of the center's youth hostels, which offer shared rooms, lockers, breakfast, and a comfortable bed at a fraction of the cost of an upscale hotel. These accommodations also give you a good base from which you can experience the city's student-fueled nightlife. To get away from the mainstream tourist center a bit, opt for a hotel or bed and breakfast in the quieter residential neighborhoods east of the university.
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