The grand patio, dominated by its 15th century loggia, which captures the attention of whoever passes by this point of the city, is an impressive example of the enduring symbolic importance of a single place. This area was an administrative, political and religious centre in the Roman era, housed a Christian church until at least the 11th century and the bishop’s palace from the second half of the 12th century, and has been a museum since 1911. Because of this, it is one of the most complex and beguiling places in the city.
Taken over by the Portuguese state in order to house the Museu Machado de Castro, the ancient bishop’s palace of Coimbra, already classified as a National Monument, was subsequently adapted in such a way that facilitated a greater understanding of its history and the archaeological value of the site. Nevertheless, it is only with the recent redevelopment and enlargement project that we have been able to make and shine light on an in-depth scientific study of the whole area, thanks to an all-encompassing operation which took archaeology, architecture and museography into account.
Redeveloped and enlarged at a very special moment in its history, the Museum recently reopened fully to the public, one hundred years after its foundation. Brand new, spacious and light-filled galleries have allowed us to marry the nature of the collections to the features of the architecture that surrounds them, and, for the first time, to offer levels of comfort and accessibility suited to the differing needs of visitors. In gaining such a degree of greater affinity to those who visit us, the Museum’s aim is to strengthen its reputation as a place where knowledge and warmth can be shared.