You would think that iconic landmarks like Elevador de Santa Justa, Castelo de São Jorge or Ascensor da Bica are the most visited sights of Lisbon. Apparently that’s not entirely true, we’ve been told that title goes to Portugal’s national coach museum, Museu Nacional dos Coches.
When you visit the museum it is easy to understand why this is such a great place to visit.
Wonderful carriages from all over the world
Museu Nacional dos Coches owns a unique collection of the most beautiful carriages in the world. Walking into the hall (you could also say “hangar”, that’s a good description) where all the carriages are, immerses you in a surreal feeling. There are so many beautifully painted carriages from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century on display here.
The oldest coach dates from the end of the 1500s and is one of only two carriages in the world that have survived from this period (the other one is in Moscow). Most of the carriages on display come from the Royal House of Portugal. But there are also state and promenade carriages from Italy, France, Austria and Spain.
It doesn’t end there though, you can marvel at church carriages for clergymen, coaches that were private property of nobles, all kinds of sedans and even children’s carriages. At the end of the second hall you will also find a couple of stage coaches.
Besides carriages the museum also features related objects such as armour, lamps, whips and riding and saddle chairs.
Moving a museum
The Museu Nacional dos Coches was opened In 1905, in the former royal stables. The riding school belonged to Palacio Belém, which was converted into the Museu Nacional dos Coches at the request of Queen Amélia. There are still carriages in the former royal riding school, but the most beautiful and special ones are in the museum these days.
You can buy a combination ticket if you want to visit both locations. Palacio Belém is just across the road, you’ll be there in no time.
Coaches in the parking lot
We went with our two daughters (1 and 4 years old at the time) on a weekday morning, by car. The museum has a small parking lot, but this one is usually full, most of the time with coaches (the bus, not the old school carriage of course).
When we arrived there was only one school class and no buses with tourists. It was also very quiet in the museum, we were told that this day was the exception to the rule.
Combining with Belém
Museu Nacional dos Coches is located between the historic buildings of Belém. Torre de Belém, Padrão dos Descobrimentos, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos en MAAT lare all less than a ten minute walk away. Also very nearby are several (of our favorite) eateries, most notably Pastéis de Belém, Gelato Davvero and around the corner from the museum you will find an establishment of Santini and the nice restaurant Rui dos Pregos.
Where to find the Museu Nacional dos Coches
Address: Avenida da Índia 136, Belém
Opening hours: Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Closed on Mondays