Portugal is an alluring country, not only for its strategic coastal position, but also for its numerous sights and cultural landmarks. We offer a selection of top museums in Lisbon, Porto, Braga, Coimbra, and Lourinhã to help you discover the many si
Apart from being the capital and the largest city in Portugal, Lisbon also offers the widest choice when it comes to museums. Calouste Gulbenkian Museum houses a magnificent collection of Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Islamic, Asian, and European art. This is one of the world’s finest private art collections and is a must-see when you visit the capital. www.museu.gulbenkian.pt.
Ancient Art Museum is also an important one for art lovers. This national gallery showcases pieces of art from the 14th to the 20th century, including the “Veneration of St. Vincent”, regarded as the most important of the Portuguese paintings in the museum.
MUDE – Design and Fashion Museum is considered one of Europe’s richest and finest 20th century design exhibitions. The design collection contains works by over 230 designers, representing trends in design from around the world. The exhibition stretches from 1937 to the present. The website is currently under construction, but you can contact the museum via email firstname.lastname@example.org and telephone: +351 218 886 117. The visiting address is Rua Augusta, 24 in Lisbon.
Maritime Museum presents Portugal’s pioneering role in exploration of the world’s oceans. Its substantial collection of 17,000 items includes fascinating models of ships from the Age of Discovery, the world’s largest collection of astrolabes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrolabe) and various 16th century maps depicting the world as it was known back then. http://museu.marinha.pt/museu/site/pt.
Coaches Museum presents the lavish transportation vehicles of Portuguese royalty. It is housed in the Belem Palace and represents the world’s largest and most valuable collection of this type. It contains dozens of magnificent state carriages, some decorated with depictions of Portugal’s maritime discoveries.
http://en.museudoscoches.pt/ ) The Lisboa Card tourist pass gives you free entry to this museum.
Contemporary Portuguese art and modern art lovers in general should visit The Modern Art Center, which houses a collection of 20th century Portuguese and British art- http://cam.gulbenkian.pt/. You can also visit Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva Museum, a museum containing works by the acclaimed Portuguese artist and his wife- http://fasvs.pt/. Don’t miss Berardo Museum, the home of one of the finest modern and contemporary art collections which includes works by Warhol, Picasso, Dali, Duchamp and Magritte.
Serralves Museum is famous as Porto’s cultural Eden. It displays world-class modern and contemporary pieces of art. As it has no permanent exhibition, but houses temporary exhibitions from all over the world. Before you visit, check out the website to find out what is currently on display.
Casa da Musica is another impressive landmark in Porto. It is a 12-storey, irregular-shaped building which Rem Koolhaas designed exclusively for musical performances. As well as having a resident orchestra, Casa de Musica hosts top international orchestras. Its façade is as fascinating as the performances which take place inside this architectural marvel.
Portugal’s first designated national museum is also situated in Porto. Don’t miss the Soares dos Reis Museum. At the time it was founded it showed works of art from dissolved monasteries and convents, including a valuable collection of paintings, glass, ceramics and jewellery. One of the highlights of the museum is “Pedra de Eiró” – a rock engraved with spiral motifs that are typical of western European megalithic art (Tel. +351 22 339 3770, Rua D. Manuel II, Porto).
The Biscainhos Museum exhibits permanent collections of decorative arts. It is located in a castle of the same name and also enthrals visitors with its magnificent gardens, built on three levels and surrounded by a wall in the style of a 16th century fortress. (www.ipmuseus.pt/pt-PT/museus_palacios/ContentDetail.aspx?id=1111).
While in Braga, visit Museu da Imagem, the home of various photos by classic and contemporary photographers, as well as photos which trace the historical development of the city over the last two centuries. You can also co-ordinate your visit with some of the important highlights of the temporary exhibitions- http://encontrosdaimagem.com/.
The Science Museum of the University of Coimbra houses the historical scientific collections of several units of this institution which is one of the oldest universities in Europe. It includes a collection of scientific instruments from the 18th and 19th century from the Physics Museum, collections (botany, zoology, anthropology and mineralogy) from the Natural History Museum and the Astronomical Observatory and the Geophysical Institute of the University of Coimbra.
Museu da Lourinhã has an excellent exhibition of archaeology and ethnology. The main focus of the museum is the palaeontology hall, which showcases casts of various dinosaurs, as well as fossils recovered from the Late Jurassic Lourinhã Formation. The museum also allows visitors to participate in various educational activities. http://www.museulourinha.org/
Check each museum’s schedule in advance, as some of them may have unusual opening hours. Also try booking your tickets online when possible or buy a combined tourist pass card, which willhelp you keep queuing time down to a minimum as well as being cost-effective.