n a city with over a thousand years of history, home to one of the oldest, most prestigious Universities in the world and the oldest in Portugal, the Comur store opens to the city of Coimbra in Largo da Portagem, on the edge of the old quarter. Coimbra is a cosmopolitan city marked by cultural, architectural, and literary wealth, and the tower of the oldest Portuguese university stands here, too.
After all, Coimbra is a history lesson. The Kings of the first Portuguese dynasty were born here and Portugal's first and second kings are buried here, too. This is where the grandees of the Kingdom gathered in 1385 to decide the beginning of the second dynasty and it was here that the Portuguese language was born – such an important fact that it deserves its own paragraph!
Coimbra was the scene of the most beautiful and tragic love story, that of Pedro and Inês. Also, at the University of Coimbra, classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, nautical science developed and exerted a powerful influence on the discoveries that marked the beginning of a new world. Coimbra is also the city that proudly boasts one of Europe's most spectacular libraries: the Johannine Library. Located at the University Palace, it was built in the 18th century by order of King D. João V and contains about 200,000 volumes (including works on medicine, geography, history, humanistic works, science, civil and canon law, philosophy, and theology), a rare Hebrew Bible handwritten on parchment, and a very rare first edition of “Os Lusíadas”, the largest, most invaluable Portuguese literary work ever, held under lock and key and whose location is known by very few.
It is easy to see that there could be no other inspiration for the Cannery Library, a.k.a. the Comur store in Coimbra. Visitors are welcome through a wide doorway that highlights the Portuguese gold: sardines. Flanked by bookshelves displaying the most delicious treasures of the sea: mackerel, sea bass, flounder or octopus, the Comur Library has not relinquished the stairs that allow access to the preserve literary works found on the upper floors that boast other treasures: trout, salmon, small sardines, and swordfish. In the centre, a study table offers another banquet: horse mackerel, mussel, cod roe, and whelk. Arches crowned by the most famous Portuguese authors – Camões, Fernando Pessoa, Florbela Espanca, Eça de Queiroz and Bocage – host true works of art in preserves: squid, meagre, sea bream, tuna and cod, and guide the visitors' gaze to the glorification of the Portuguese sea depicted on the ceiling, among caravels, monuments, and all the splendour of the Discoveries. And at the far end, the highlight of the Library of Preserves: the representation of the Portuguese crown and the opulent portrait of King D. João V the Magnanimous, who lent his name to the Johannine Library.
Visiting the Cannery Library after visiting the Johannine Library is to immerse yourself in a tribute to the most extraordinary Baroque library in Portugal in an epic journey on the Portuguese sea. It is the promise of a remarkable and sensory experience, full of Portuguese history. That must be why they say that Coimbra is more charming when it's time to say farewell...