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The Museu Nacional dos Coches
& other museums
Lisbon's Historic Coaches Museum
& other museums

The Coach Museum

27 October 2013

Copyright: ©
Compiled by John Laidlar

The Coach Museum/ Museu dos Coches

Lisbon's most-visited museum is its Museu dos Coches, which houses the best collection in the world of historic royal and other horse-drawn vehicles. These are normally housed in the former riding school of Belém Palace built in 1726 by the Italian architect, Azzolini. The 1944 extension is by Raul Lino. The museum moved back to Belém after being temporarily transferred to the Parque das Nações, the former Expo-98 site, near Oriente station, to allow roof repairs to be completed. However, a new building for the collection is taking shape (2013) across the road.

Left: An exhibit in the Museu dos Coches.

As of 2010, hoardings had appeared at a site diagonally across the road from the Museu dos Coches announcing that this was to be the site of newly constructed premises for the museum. The Musuem has its own website.

The Palace at Belém, to which the existing Coach Museum is attached, is now the residence of the President of the Portuguese Republic and houses the Museum of the Portuguese Republic. The site is situated at the back of the Praça Afonso de Albuquerque and is easily reached by alighting at the Belém stop of the number 15 tram route from central Lisbon, or Algés. Buses serving the Belém site of the museum include Carris services 714, 727, 729, 751.

At Belém the main display area in the coach museum is the Salão Nobre (Noble Salon), an impressive room, which houses, amongst many others, three carriages of King João V. However, the oldest carriage is one from the seventeenth century, which belonged to King Philip II of Portugal (Philip III of Spain). Apart from this main display room, which has fine decoration, there is an extension containing carriages of lesser grandeur and other related items, such as sedan chairs.The museum was the creation of Queen Amélia and opened in 1905 as the Museu dos Coches Reais (Museum of Royal Coaches), acquiring its new name after the 1910 Revolution had overthrown the monarchy. The heart of its collection comprises vehicles from the royal household and from the collection of the Patriarch of Lisbon.

Right: The site of the new Museu dos Coches will be where the building behind the tram is located. The picture is taken from the current Museu dos Coches so the new site is literally diagonally across the road from the front door. In the background is the Museu da Electricidade

Major Exhibits

The major exhibits in the Museu dos Coches include:
  • King José's and King João V's coaches (18th century)
  • The coach in which the Marquês de Fontes went as ambassador to Rome in the eighteenth century.
  • Philip II of Spain (Filipe I of Portugal)'s coach - 16th century.
  • Pope Clement XI's coach.

    Other Lisbon Museums

    Other museums (most of which are closed on Mondays) which are well worth a visit include:
  • The Air Museum- Museu do Ar next door to Alverca railway station on the Azambuja railway line from Oriente.
  • 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.
  • Benfica Football Club Museum. Lisbon's most famous club has its museum at the famous Estádio da Luz in north west Lisbon.
  • The Carris Transport Museum at Santo Amaro on tram route 15. Houses old trams and buses.
  • The Centro Cultural de Belém, includes the Berardo modern art collection.
  • The Ceramic Tile Museum: The Museu Nacional do Azulejo at Rua de Madre de Deus 4, on bus routes 18, 39A, 42, 104, 105. It is well worth the journey to this slightly out of town museum
  • The Communications Museum; Museu das Comunicações is at Rua do Instituto Industrial 16.
  • 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. Adjacent is the Museu da Arte Moderna.
  • The Lisbon City Museum: Museu da Cidade in the Palácio Pimenta at Campo Grande.
  • The Maritime Museum: Museu de Marinha at Belém. An excellent traditional musueum highlighting Portugal's many maritime achievements.
  • The Military Museum: Museu Militar, which stands opposite the main entrance to Sta Apolónia railway station. Both the interior of the building and its collections are impressive.
  • The Modern Art Centre: Centro de Arte Moderna at the Gulbenkian, near Palhavã and São Sebastião Metro stations.
  • Museum of Design and Fashion: MUDE. Only opened in 2009/10 in the Rua Augusta.
  • Museum of the Oriente, Museu do Oriente. This is one of Lisbon's newest museums and is housed at Alcantara.
  • The Popular Art Museum: Museu de Arte Popular, opposite the Centro Cultural de Belém, a folklore museum.
  • Sporting Lisbon Museum. The impressive Alvalade stadium, home of Lisbon's second most famous club, is near Campo Grande metro station.

    Copyright: ©
    Compiled by John Laidlar