The Mata Nacional do Choupal, in Portuguese, or just Choupal was sung and written about by poets in various texts as an emblematic place. Linked to the homesickness of students, who will leave Coimbra, this place is more than just a green space in the city of Coimbra.
The vegetation in the area now occupied by the forest was ordered to be planted by Estevão Cabral in 1791. The planting of trees and other vegetation was strategically placed to help secure land, to avoid the floods of the Mondego River.
With an extension of 80 hectares, for two kilometres the Choupal follows the course of the Mondego River. Currently, the green space is one of the most visited by the inhabitants of Coimbra due to the close contact with nature. Sports are practised and books can even be read on benches spread throughout the forest.
The Choupal National Forest is divided into three zones. East Zone, where the pedestrian path called “Floresta Viva” is located. The Central Zone, where you will find the picnic area, sports areas, bar, the headquarters of the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests and even a maintenance running circuit, where you can practice certain exercises in the woods. Finally, in the West Zone, there is the pedestrian path “Vida Aquatica.” Also, in this area, you can visit the Garden of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants, the Butterfly Garden and the Exhibition of Water Lifting Devices.
Choupal is a quiet place, where you can only hear the birds and the sound of the river running through that area. Nature predominates and it is common to see people working alone, or simply reading a book while feeling the cool breeze that runs through the area. In the summer, or on hotter days, a visit to the Mata Nacional do Choupal will refresh you as much as a trip to the beach. Due to the high levels of vegetation, there are certain areas where sunlight cannot penetrate the trees, thus creating lots of shade.
Despite criticisms regarding the preservation of the space, some areas have already been restored, making the visit to the Mata Nacional do Choupal much safer and more pleasant.
The forest is located on the right bank of the Mondego in Coimbra. You can get there via the EN 111, which connects Coimbra to Figueira da Foz. Another point of reference to reach Choupal is the Coimbra-B train station. Since the two locations are quite close.