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Museu do Ar (Air Museum), Alverca & Sintra, Portugal

View from Alverca Station overbridge of the Alverca Air Base, with a Cessna T37C, on display inside the gates. It is in the colours of the Portuguese Air Force display team.

17 September 2004

Copyright: ©
Compiled by John Laidlar


The Museu do Ar has bases at both Alverca and Sintra in the outer Lisbon suburbs.

L to R: Inside the museum's main hall; the airfield entrance, as seen from Alverca station overbridge; Alverca station platform.

Alverca Railway Station

Alverca station is one of several modern facilities on the line north from Santa Apolónia and Oriente stations towards the town of Santarém. There are frequent services from Lisbon and the journey takes about half an hour along the Tagus estuary. Double-deck stock was introduced by Portuguese Railways on this route in 1999. Pillars in the station, near the escalators, bear railway artefacts including locomotive lamps and a manufacturer's plate from the Bayer-Peacock locomotive works of Gorton, Manchester. The station also has a bar, which has illustrations on the walls displaying the station in former days. There are also toilets and a newsagent's shop in the station, to the left of the ticket office.

Museu do Ar, Alverca

The Portuguese Air Museum (Museu do Ar) at Alverca is the most accessible part of the Museu do Ar, being open at advertised hours and without any prior appointment being necessary. It is housed in a modern hangar at the Portuguese Air Force's base at Alverca. The museum lies next to the main railway line from Lisbon to Santarém and is adjacent to the station at Alverca.

Right: An Alverca Air Museum entrance ticket.

Opening Hours and Contact Details

2004 opening hours at Alverca were:-
  • Tuesdays to Sundays from 1000 - 1700, but until 1800 from July to September inclusive
  • Closed every Monday as well as on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Easter Sunday.

    L to R: Views of the outdoor display at the Museu do Ar, as seen (left) from the railway line to Santarém and, next, from Alverca Station; far right, a replica of a Fairey aircraft used by Coutinho and Cabral in the first crossing of the South Atlantic, 1922.

    Origins and Developments

    The Alverca air museum (3000 sq. metres) opened on 1 July 1971 with exhibits which included a D.H. Vampire, donated by the South African Air Force and replicas which included the 'Santa Cruz' Fairey IIID aircraft of Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral- the original of the last of the three Faireys used in this epic trip is displayed in the Lisbon Maritime Museum at Belém. Today, the Alverca museum occupies 3000 sq metres of indoor and outdoor display areas. Of 112 aircraft owned by the museum, some nineteen are on display, along with aero engines and other aircraft parts. There is also a wealth of model aircraft, uniforms and memorabilia. The display hangar comprises a modern installation of aircraft, some of which are suspended from the roof. Amongst the aircraft to be seen are replicas of a Blériot IX, the first aircraft to fly in Portugal, and a replica of the Demoiselle (1909), one of the pioneering Brazilian aviator, Santos Dumont's aeroplanes. Other exhibits include a Spitfire Mark V in Portuguese Air Force camouflage livery. The more modern era is represented by a mock-up of POSAT-1, the first Portuguese satellite (1993). There is a magnificent collection of painted model aircraft kits covering the history of aviation throughout the world. In two adjoining rooms are numerous display-cases showing artefacts of celebrated Portuguese aviators.

    Outside the museum is a selection of Portuguese Air Force exhibits, which includes a Hawker Hurricane (apparently, a fibreglass replica), a Fiat G91 and a Northrop T-38A Talon. The adjacent Alverca military airfield is still active with C-130 Hercules amongst the types to be seen. The museum costs only 1.50 Euros to enter for adulst (2004). Pensioners' tickets are 0.75 Euros, whilst students and children over 12 must pay only 0.50 Euros. Children under twelve gain free admission. A small range of souvenirs may be purchased at the entrance desk in the foyer.

    Museu do Ar, Sintra

    Above: Max Holste Broussard at Sintra. Picture , courtesy of Adrian Balch.

    Other sections of the Museu do Ar are to be found at other Portuguese Air Force bases, such as those at Sintra, Beja, Monte Real, Montijo and Ota.

    The main museum will eventually move from Alverca to the Sintra site at the Granja do Marquês air force base. This was the site of Lisbon's commercial airport in the early part of World War II where, because of Portugal's neutrality, British and Nazi aircraft could be seen side by side. It is open from 1000-1700 at weekends but prior arrangements must be made. These can be made via the Tourist Office in Sintra. Entry is free.

    Above: North American F-86F Sabre at Sintra. Picture, courtesy of Adrian Balch.

    Sintra houses 22 aircraft of which 10 are in airworthy condition, including a 1935 Avro Cadet.Exhibits include a Cessna T-37, North American F86F Sabre, Lockheed T-33A, Lockheed RT-33A, Northrop T-38A Talon, two Fiat G.91R, an A-7P Corsair, a Lockheed Neptune, Douglas Dakota, Piper Cub, two Harvards, two Tiger Moths, a Hornet Moth, a Sikorsky UH-19, a Dragon Rapide, a Dornier Do-27, a Holste Broussard and an Auster.

    *Thanks to Adrian Balch for this information, (Sept. 2004).

    Above: Dornier Do-27 at Sintra. Picture, courtesy of Adrian Balch.

    Other Information

  • The Museu do Ar has its own Web site.
  • For a full list of the aircraft at the Museu do Ar at both Alverca and Sintra, see the excellent Cross of Christ Aviation Data Files.
  • For photos of more exhibits at the Museu do Ar, see the Warplane website.

    Other Lisbon Museums

    Other museums (most of which are closed on Mondays) which are well worth a visit include:
  • The Historic Coaches Museum: Museu dos Coches at Belém. Houses the best collection in the world of horse-drawn state and ecclesiastical carriages.
  • The Ancient Art Museum : Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga - Lisbon's major art gallery. Near to tram routes 15, 18 and to Alcântara-Terra railway station.
  • The Carris Transport Museum at Santo Amaro on tram route 15. Houses old trams and buses.
  • The Ceramic Tile Museum: The Museu Nacional do Azulejo at Rua de Madre de Deus 4, on bus routes 18, 39A, 42, 104, 105.
  • The Chiado Museum: Museu do Chiado, a fine museum of 19th- and 20th-century art, near Baixa-Chiado Metro station and tram route 28. Has an excellent small outdoor café
  • The Electricity Museum: Museu da Electricidade at Belém, near the railway station, housed in a former power-generating station.
  • The Gulbenkian Museum: Museu Calouste Gulbenkian near Palhavã; and São Sebastião Metro stations. This has a world-famous collection of art and artefacts, including Egyptology and lalique-ware.
  • The Lisbon City Museum: Museu da Cidade in the Palaácio Pimenta at Campo Grande.
  • The Maritime Museum: Museu de Marinha at Belém.
  • The Military Museum: Museu Militar, which stands opposite the main entrance to Sta Apolónia railway station.
  • The Modern Art Centre: Centro de Arte Moderna at the Gulbenkian, near Palhavã and São Sebastião Metro stations.
  • The Popular Art Museum: Museu de Arte Popular, opposite the Centro Cultural de Belém, a folklore museum.

    Copyright: ©
    Compiled by John Laidlar