Besides the famous Coimbra University and its sensational library Joanina, there are other interesting spots to visit in Coimbra, the biggest city of central Portugal, and briefly (between 1131 and 1255) the capital of the country. The property Quinta das Lágrimas ("Estate of Tears") is one of them. It was the setting for what Portuguese people say is one of the most beautiful love stories of all times — the story of a forbidden love between Pedro and Ines, back in the 14th centrury.
But who are Pedro and Ines? Pedro was the son of the Portuguese king Afonso IV, and the heir to the throne. Ines was a close friend and a lady-in-waiting of Constance of Castile, Pedro's wife. She came to Portugal in 1340, when Constance married Pedro. However, Pedro immediately fell in love with Ines and it was mutual. Two lovers were using every opportunity to meet secretly in the gardens of Quinta das Lágrimas.
Five years later, Constance died giving birth and Pedro wanted to make his relation with Ines official. His father, the King, however, was strongly opposed to it, as well as Portuguese people in general. The couple even lived together, at Santa Clara palace in Coimbra and had three children, which provoked big drama and constantly growing disapprovals. Since their love was so strong, the king did not manage to find any way to separate them, and so he ordered a murder of Ines in 1355. Ines was beheaded exactly at the place of their secret meetings - Quinta das Lágrimas. It's said she was murdered in front of her children, begging for mercy. Pedro was furious and about to start a war with his own father to whom he was never able to forgive. Once he became the king himself, he ordered the execution of those who killed the love of his life. He stated that they secretly god married and therefore imposed her recognition as Queen of Portugal. Her body was moved to a tomb in the Royal Monastery of Alcobaça, where now they rest forever one next to another.
Once welcoming Portuguese Kings and Emperors, today Quinta das Lágrimas is a luxurious hotel, a member of “Small Luxury Hotels of the World” chain. It offers peace and tranquility in the middle of the business of the city and a unique setting of an 18th century palace surrounded by lush gardens. Legends say that the ghost of Inês still wanders around the gardens looking for Pedro.
In Coimbra, there is also a bridge dedicated to Pedro and Ines - called "Ponte Pedro e Ines". It's a pedestrian bridge of multicoloured glass over the River Mondego, from which a fabulous view of the old city is guaranteed.
Seven hundred years later, this story of one forbidden love is still alive and the traces of it can be found all over the city of Coimbra. In the meantime, Pedro and Ines inspired many artists, including the most famous Portuguese poet, Luís de Camões, who mentioned their love story in his "The Lusíadas".
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