The sound of A Cabra, Coimbra

Aug 03, 2022, 07:24 PM

The bell tower at the University of Coimbra, Portugal is the highest point of the city, visible from almost anywhere and aptly symbolising how the university sits at the centre of life here. The bell is known in Portuguese as El Cabra, which is translated as “the goat” - however, “goat” is also used as an insult in Portuguese, and is how the students used to refer to the bell when cursing it for waking them and forcing them to their studies in the morning. 

In this recording, on a blisteringly hot day at around 38 degrees, the courtyard is quieter than usual as people shelter from the heat, and the bell strikes midday - at the end of the bell chimes, you can hear the reverberation of the bell continuing beautifully for some time after the final chime.

Recorded by Cities and Memory.