Museu Nacional dos Coches
Museums and Palaces
The Coach Museum was an initiative of Queen D. Amélia de Orléans e Bragança, wife of King D. Carlos I (1889-1908), who inaugurated it in 1905. It contains an exceptional and unique collection of richly adorned royal vehicles, from the 17th to 19th centuries (coaches, berlins, carriages, chaises, litters, sedan-chairs), used by the Portuguese other European courts, the Patriarchs of Lisbon and Portuguese noble houses up until the advent of the motor car.
The rare example of Philip II's travelling coach (late 16th century) and the three monumental coaches that were part of the magnificent embassy sent by Portugal to Pope Clement XI in Rome (1716), with iconography in gilded woodwork glorifying the Discoveries, are some of the most notable pieces in this incomparable exhibition.
The collection also includes an important store of harnesses, ceremonial and coach service liveries, a stock of 18th century armoury and accessories and the oil portraits of the monarchs of the Braganza Dynasty.
The building itself lives up to the museum's contents. Formerly the riding school of the Belém royal palace, it was adapted to a museum space by the architect Rosendo Carvalheiro. Another wing, designed by Raul Lino, was added later. The ceilings are decorated with fine paintings by José Malhoa and Conceição e Silva.
There is an annexe of the National Coach Museum in the ducal palace in Vila Viçosa, an excellent reason for visiting this pretty Alentejo town.
10am - 6pm (last visit at 5.30pm) - Tuesday to Sunday Closed: Monday and Public Holidays (1 January, Easter Sunday, 1 May, 25 December)