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Coimbra (kōēmˈbrə) [key], city (1991 pop. 96,142), capital of Coimbra dist., W central Portugal, on the Mondego River, in Beira Litoral. The old capital of Beira, it is a market center with small industries but is known chiefly for its history and for the famous university, which was founded (1292) by King Diniz in Lisbon but was moved temporarily to Coimbra in 1308 and permanently in 1540. Coimbra, then known as Conimbriga, was an important town in Roman days. It continued to flourish down through Moorish times and after its Christian recovery (1047) by Ferdinand I of León. It became the capital of Alfonso I, first king of Portugal, and continued as an important royal residence after the capital was transferred to Lisbon in the 13th cent. There is a fine 12th-century cathedral. Inés de Castro was murdered there (1355).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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