Coimbra was the capital of Portugal during the Middle Ages, but it was the Renaissance that transformed the city into a place of knowledge, when Dom João III (1521-57) decided to move the University to the city on a definitive basis, whilst at the same time numerous colleges were created to provide an alternative to the official form of teaching. In the 17th century, the Jesuits arrived in the city, immediately announcing their presence with the building of the Sé Nova (New Cathedral). In the following century, the royal work instituted by Dom João V (1706-50) was to enrich some of Coimbra´s monuments, including the University. Dom José I (1750-77) also introduced some alterations into the city through the influence of his minister Marquês de Pombal, particularly in the field of education.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the French invasions and the Portuguese liberal wars were to mark the beginning of a period of great agitation that brought no great developments to the city. Since then, it has been the students who have brought most changes to Portugal´s quintessential university town.