Rua do Quebra Costas, Coimbra

As a photographer I found the Portuguese streets fascinating.  They’re not like what we have in the United States, where everything is two or more lanes of automobile traffic.   In Portugal, many of the streets, especially in the old sections of town, were very narrow and primarily used for foot traffic rather than cars.  Keep in mind that many of these roads were around for centuries before the automobile was invented and they were built to last.  In America we’re constantly patching and repaving and widening our roads.  We’re a throwaway society and we don’t expect permanence from anything- even from our roads.

Combra’s Rua do Quebra Costas was a great example of the wonderful streets to be found in Portugal.  For centuries Rua do Quebra Costas was a primary means of ascent from the lower town to the upper town.  Nicknamed “the Backbreaker” for its steep ascent, the street begins at the Barbican Gate, one of the last remnants of the wall that protected Old Coimbra from attacks by the Moors, and ends in front of the Sé Velha (old cathedral).  Much of it is a series of steps which makes it impassible for automobile traffic.  That’s fine with me.  It’s a strenuous walk full of wonderful surprises along the way.

As you make the walk from bottom to top, look for two sculptures by artist André Alves, Fado de Coimbra, which celebrates the beautiful music of Coimbra, and Tricana de Coimbra, an homage to the women of the city, seen in the photo below.

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