Santa Clara-a-Velha Monastery

Visitor's Guide

Santa Clara-a-Velha, Coimbra

The monastery and what remains of the cloister

The first of the two Santa Clara monasteries in Coimbra was founded in 1283 by the river. It added “a velha” (“the old”) to the name, when frequent flooding forced the construction of a new monastery nearby, the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova (“the new”), in 1677.

Santa Clara-a-Velha Church, Coimbra

The architectural details of the church have been cleaned up since the late 1990s

Before that, the old monastery had been expanded in 1330, with a larger church and a new cloister. It was the resting place of Queen Saint Isabel, whose tomb was then transferred, along with the nuns, to the new building. It was left abandoned and the floods deteriorated it inside and out for centuries, until 1995, when it was decided that, as a National Monument, it should be restored. The careful restoration lasted until 2008, and a museum opened a year later, with archaeological finds and displays explaining the architectural and historical significance of the monument.

Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Velha, Coimbra

The ruined interior of the monastery

From the museum, it’s possible to walk around the atmospheric Gothic ruins, from the cloister to the vaulted interior. Inside, it’s relatively intact, and there’s a good view of other monuments on both sides of the river.

Museu Santa Clara-a-Velha, Coimbra

The museum of the monastery

After your visit, head up the hill and visit the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova, about a 15-minute walk away.

Rua das Parreiras

Admission and Tickets to the Santa Clara-a-Velha Monastery

Admission is €4. Children up to 12 years of age are free.

It closes on Mondays, and is open from 10am to 5pm in the autumn and winter months, and from 10am to 7pm in the spring and summer.