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Coimbra Municipality (Portugal)

Concelho de Coimbra, Distrito de Coimbra

Last modified: 2015-06-02 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: coimbra | inescutcheons(2) | queen's head | grail | serpent(winged) | lion(golden) | quina |
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[Coimbra municipality old flag]
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 4 Sep 2006
[Coimbra municipality]
image by Sérgio Horta, 4 Sep 2006
[Coimbra municipality w/ big CoA]
image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 11 July 2014

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About the Flag

A typical Portuguese municipal flag, with the coat of arms centred on a background gyronny city rank of purple and yellow.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 4 Sep 2006

Coat of arms

[Coimbra municipality CoA] image by Sérgio Horta, 4 Sep 2006

The coat of arms is gules a cup or lined and filled purpure flanked at dexter by a winged serpent and at sinister by a lion both of the first langued of the second rampant, in chief a women's bust proper crowned or dressed purpure and mantled argent between two inescutcheons of Portugal ancient. Mural crown argent with five visible towers (city rank), the collar of the Sword and Tower Order and white scroll reading in black upper case letters "CIDADE DE COIMBRA".
A version of this CoA showing a full-size depiction of the Queen Saint and with a point topped shield was common until recently (also in flags, see left image).
António Martins-Tuválkin, 4 Sep 2006

This Coat of Arms is a "fine" example of the kind of "jewellery box" heraldry that is so often in Portuguese subnational entities: a plain background with a lot of assorted elements thrown on. The serpent (actually, should be a wyvern, with two legs) and the lion refer to the pre-Moor kingdoms of, respectively, the Suevi and Alans. The woman is Queen Saint Elizabeth of Aragon (1271-1336), who lived in Coimbra as a widow nun. This regal connection is shown in the inescutcheons. Coimbra was made knight of the Sword and Tower Order for its role during the Napoleon invasions.
António Martins-Tuválkin,

For the "lady" in the arms there are two explanations; one states that she is the patron saint of Coimbra, the Queen Saint Isabel, wife of King Dinis, renowned in Portugal for her miracle of the roses. The second explanation states that she represents an old Suevic princess named Cindazunda. This is related with a legend that occurred during the reconquest of Portugal from the Moors.
The serpent is the symbol of wisdom, and, together with the goblet (the Holy Grail of the Quest) symbolise the city's university. Coimbra prides itself in being one of the oldest Universities in Europe (founded by Dom Dinis). The twin inescutcheons on either side of the queen, in nowadays arms, are the ensigns of Afonso Henriques, Portugal's first monarch, who also made Coimbra his capital.
Source: Ralf Hartemink's webpage

Version without Coat of Arms

[Coimbra municipality plain] 2:3 image by António Martins-Tuválkin, Apr 2010

Arms and flag approved by law and published in the official journal Diário do Governo : I Série of 1930.11.14.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 4 Sep 2006

Presentation of Coimbra

Coimbra is classically termed to be Portugal's third city (after Lisbon and Oporto, while this is no longer supported by demographic data), home of the oldest Portuguese university.
Coimbra Municipality municipality had 142 408 inhabitants in 2000, and it is divided in 31 communes, covering 319,4 km2. It belongs to the Coimbra District and to the traditional province Beira Litoral (and to the same-name but not exactly the same made-up current NUT2/CCR region and would be administrative region).
Actually, it still is the third Portuguese city in a way, because it's the biggest Portuguese city outside the big conurbations of Lisbon and Oporto. Urban realities in Portugal (as in many other nations) are quite separated from administrative divisions. We have, in reality, two major metropolis, where lie almost all the most populous administrative divisions and some 60% of the whole population of the country, a third one emerging in the Algarve seaside - a very peculiar one, with well over 1.5 million people during the summer and some 300-400 thousand during the winter -, which is nowdays almost a continuous city with a length of about 100km and a width of less than 10 km, and then a number of smaller and more isolated urban centers, of which Coimbra is still the largest.
António Martins-Tuválkin and Jorge Candeias, 4 Sep 2006

Coimbra Bus Pennants

[Coimbra bus pennant y/p]
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 2 Sep 2008
[Coimbra bus pennant r/g]
image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 2 Sep 2008

Coimbra city buses (perhaps trolleybuses too, I was not able to check) are embellished with two small triangle flags slanted sideways above the front edge of the bodywork (similarly to Lisboa. These flags stand for the municipality and the country, horizontally divided in their respective livery colours: purple over yellow (left image) and green over red (right image).
António Martins-Tuválkin, 2 Sep 2008

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