Carriage Museum in Lisbon, description and photo

National Carriage Museum

National Carriage Museum

The National Carriage Museum in Lisbon is the oldest of its kind and one of the most visited cultural sites in the city. The collection contains almost a hundred exhibits from the 16th to the 20th centuries: from sumptuously decorated cabins for monarchs to discreet versions for civil servants. This is complemented by things related to equestrianism. The museum complex is divided into two buildings: the new large high-tech manege and the old Renaissance manege. You can visit both of them – the first houses the main collection, while the second preserves the design of the XVIII century. There is a research library and a restoration workshop. There is a park in front of the entrance.

National Carriage Museum

History of the museum

The history of the modern complex goes back to 1726, when King João V bought several houses, a palace and an arena on the banks of the Tajo River, in the area of Belem. In 1786, the old horse racing stadium was torn down. A new one was built the following year, but the final finishes were completed in 1828. The initiator was the son of the king, who was fond of horseback riding. In the following years, the interior was decorated with paintings, tiles, and engravings. 1904-1905 – the arena was converted into a museum. 1940 – An additional hall is built. 1994 – the city government acquires items in the collection, and issues a decree creating a new museum space. From 1999 to 2001 – extensive reconstruction of the former building took place. In 2010 – construction of the modern structure began, and on May 23, 2015, its opening took place.

Additional pieces from the collection

Collection and exhibitions

The exhibits on display date from the 16th century to the present. The main part of the collection are carriages, which are divided into types such as: carriages, coupes, sedans, cabriolets, clarences, milordes, etc. About 20 varieties are represented. Some models have horse figures and additional details attached to them to make it easy to understand how they traveled. All of the vehicles are authentic and have been used in riding before. There are particularly valuable ones that belonged to nobles and royalty: the carriage of Queen Marie Francis of Savoy, King Pedro II, Pope Clement XI, Queen Mary I and others. Most were pompously decorated with gold bas-reliefs, paintings, and leather saloons. More modest versions appeared in the mid-nineteenth century, such as the mail carriage.

A carriage from the collection

A couple of rooms display a collection of items related to horse transportation and historically valuable items: these include wheels, hunting pipes, tournament shields for horses, jockey outfits, etc. They are divided into sections: painting gallery, equestrian games, hunting, uniforms, saddles, harness, insignia, etc.

The grounds often become a place for temporary exhibitions. Several rooms are set aside for this purpose. For example, paintings from the series “Kings and Queens of Portugal”, miniatures of famous carriages, and drawings by contemporary artists were exhibited. As part of the outreach activities, there are events that introduce the history of Portugal. There are interactive educational games for children. There are free tours on the first Sunday of each month.

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Museum building before 2015

Royal Riding School

The 1786 building was originally the world’s first carriage museum. It was created under the direction of Queen Amelia of Orleans and opened on May 23, 1905. The interior decoration is royal: the ceiling is decorated with three medallions with allegorical scenes of equestrian art; a balustrade is built around the entire hall; gold bas-reliefs are used in the details. All of this has been preserved and restored. Visitors can get in for a fee. The manege is located just across the street. From the collection exhibited a number of vehicles, royal portrait gallery and accessories of the cavalry. Concerts and performances are also held here.

It takes 40 years for the artisans to decorate the riding school, as can be seen by the precision of the workmanship.

Carriage Museum in Lisbon

Mode of operation

The cultural object is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00 without interruption. The cashier closes at 17:00. Day off on Mondays and holidays: January 1, May 1, Easter Sunday, June 13, December 24 and 25. The riding school is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with lunch from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m.

Cost of admission.

There are several rates for admission. The price depends on which complexes you go to:

  • adult museum – 8 euros, preschoolers are free;
  • Riding school – 4 euros;
  • Museum and school – 10 euros;
  • Museum and the Ajuda National Palace – 12 euros.

How to get to the Carriage Museum in Lisbon

By car, take the N6 highway to the GPS coordinates – 38.696600, -9.198440. There is a paid parking lot across the road. Order a cab through Uber or Gett app. It will be convenient to get there by public transport to Belém station:

National Carriage Museum

National Carriage Museum

“My carriage, my carriage!” – one would like to exclaim when visiting the Carriage Museum in Lisbon. A superb collection of vintage carriages and wagons, said to be the most impressive in the world.

The coach museum has become the most visited museum in Lisbon and this popularity has played havoc with its popularity. But let’s take it one step at a time.

inside the carriage museum

The history of the museum began on May 23, 1905 with the last Portuguese queen, Donna Amelia. The Carriage Museum was opened in the building of the Royal Riding Hall (Picadeiro Real), built in the mid-18th century.

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The riding school was built in the neoclassical style designed by architect Giacomo Asolini. The building was erected in a few years, but it took 40 years to finish the interior.

An outside view of the old carriage museum

Although, when you see the skillfully painted ceiling, you realize that the time was not spent in vain. The arena consists of two parts – the main hall and the second-tier gallery, where people could watch the competitions from the balconies.

inside the old carriage museum

In the arena hall could accommodate 29 carriages. But in the storerooms of the Portuguese, there were still many interesting exhibits that were gathering dust in the storerooms. The city officials decided that there was nothing to waste and built a modern building right across the street for the carriage museum.

If earlier travelers had a problem finding the entrance to the carriage museum, now you definitely won’t pass by.

The huge glass and concrete structure is practically on the banks of the Tagus, next door to the Belém commuter train station. There have been so many arguments, rallies, and scandals about this 40 million euro concrete box.

new carriage museum

We were also skeptical at first. After the construction was finished, however, the building seemed quite harmonious.

There is a lot of light and space inside. The new building of the national carriage museum seemed to balance the Belém neighborhood, where before there had been a similar concrete structure, the Belém Cultural Center.

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The author of the new building of the carriage museum in Lisbon was the Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha, who at the age of 78 won the Pritzker Prize in 2006.

The architect is convinced that technology is an integral part of any project and not just a tool for its realization. All of his projects are brutal and technological.

The main materials are concrete. The shape is a parallelepiped. The ribbon glazing of the lower tier of the building creates the feeling that it is one with the surrounding space.

entrance to the new carriage museum

On May 23, 2015, 110 years after the museum was founded, it opened its doors in a new guise. There is not just a lot of space in the museum, but a lot of it. And if in the old building you had the feeling of being let into an old garage, here that feeling disappears.

In addition to the main exposition of 70 carriages, the premises managed to include space for a temporary exhibition, restoration workshop, an auditorium for 330 people, a library, archive, gift store and even an ice cream store Santini.

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museum carriages - details

The main core of the National Carriage Museum in Lisbon is the carriages of the Portuguese royal family. Many of the vehicles on display were left as gifts to the Portuguese monarchs by the Spanish, Austrians, Danes, French and Italians.

The oldest exhibit dates back to the 16th century, and then all the splendor is presented in chronological order so that we can trace the technical evolution of the carriages, as well as the changing tastes of the nobility and clergy.

To avoid having to paint every item on display, we decided to focus on the most noteworthy.

The Carriage of Philip II

Philip II's Carriage

The carriage of Philip II (Portugal) or Philip III (Spain) is the oldest carriage in the exhibition. And probably the most uncomfortable of all. Philip II visited Lisbon in 1619, two years before his death, and traveled all the way from Madrid in this carriage. The heavy curtains served as the only protection against wind and cold.

Carriage of Philip II - details

Another feature of the design of this carriage is the hole in the seat. As you understand, it served not to stop the carriage when the monarch got motion sickness or needed to relieve himself. Recall that one could only dream of a comfortable journey in this vehicle.

Maria de Saboia’s carriage

Maria Francisca de Saboia's Carriage

The second oldest carriage belonged to the cousin of the French King Louis XIV. Maria Francisca de Saboia ( Mademoiselle d’ Aumale ) was the wife of two brothers: the first husband was King Don Afonso VI (he asked for a divorce), the second was his brother King Don Pedro II.

The Bride’s Carriage

The Bride's carriage

This golden carriage is sure to catch your eye. It was made by order of the Austrian Emperor José I in 1708, for the wedding of his sister Donna Maria Anna of Austria to the Portuguese King João V.

The Bride's Carriage - monogram

The letter M, which is engraved on the carriage, is the monogram of Donna Maria Anna. The official name is “Carriage of Donna Maria Anna of Austria”.

The royal carriage

The Royal Carriage

This is a carriage of French masters of the 18th century. It is worth paying attention to the sculptures on the roof of the carriage – angels crowning a dragon. The dragon is the symbol of the royal house of Braganza.

Carriage of the Oceans

This is without a doubt the jewel of the collection. The carriage shouts out, surprising in its luxury and richness of finishes. The triumphal carriage was made in Rome in 1716, especially for the visit of the Portuguese embassy to the Vatican.

Carriage of the Oceans

The delegation was sent during the heyday of the Portuguese empire, when the gold shower that poured in from Brazil made João V the richest monarch in Europe.

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The carriage is decorated with gilded baroque figures, an allegory on the theme of the Portuguese maritime discoveries and the connection by sea of the two oceans, the Indian and Atlantic.

The Carriage of the Oceans - Description

This amazing piece has recently been restored, using original materials, fabrics and embroidery. This truly titanic work is the subject of the book “The Carriage of the Oceans” .

Next to this dazzling carriage are two other valuable pieces that were also part of the cartage sent to the Vatican. Coronation Carriage of Lisbon .

The Coronation Coach of Lisbon

The girl in the center of the sculpture is Lisbon. You may have a question why the capital is represented in the form of a woman. Let’s not torture you with speculation, Lisboa is feminine in Portuguese, so Lisbon is actually a lady.

The Coronation of Lisbon Erode - Details

The third carriage in the cortege has the name Ambassador and is sculpted as an allegory on the theme of the Portuguese navigation and conquest. Lions, dragons, sea monsters, horses and many other sculptures.

The Ambassador's Coach - Details

Carriage of the Table

The carriage owes its name to the round table placed inside. The second name – “Carriage of the Exchange of Princesses” is due to a ceremony that took place in 1729 on the border of Portugal and Spain.

Then the Portuguese princess Maria Barbara (daughter of Don Joao V), was exchanged for the Spanish princess Mariana Vitoria, daughter of Philip V. The princesses set out to marry the future kings of Spain and Portugal, respectively.

The Table's Carriage

The carriage is fully enclosed and has two glass windows. The interior is upholstered in crimson velvet and the ceiling is decorated with gold woven fringe.

The next room exhibits many carriages of the clergy and the carriages used in religious processions.

The Religious Processional Carriage

Óculos carriage.

The progenitor of the sports car. It was made by Portuguese masters at the end of XIII century. This fast carriage could be driven independently. Leather curtains protected from bad weather and one could look at the road through round glass windows which gave the carriage its name.

Racing Stroller Óculos

The royal family also used such a carriage, and on September 3, 1759, King Don Jose I was assassinated while riding in a carriage of this type.

The king was wounded and recovery was delayed. The event finally shook the already fragile psyche of the king, who had not yet recovered from the 1755 earthquake.

Children’s carriages

Children Carriages

Interesting variations of children’s carriages. Young princes and princesses rode in such vehicles in royal gardens and parks. Carriages were harnessed either to ponies or goats.

The hunting carriage

Huntress Carriage

Hunting was one of the main entertainment of the nobility. In the XIX century such vehicles delivered hunters and escorts to the place of the action. Ladies were allowed to sit in these carriages to watch the hunt. The rectangular shape of the carriage is reminiscent of a Gelandwagen.

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The Carriage of the Crown

The Crown Carriage

The carriage was made in London in 1824. It got its name because of the crown on the roof. This crown was placed there specifically for the coronation ceremony of Don Carlos.

The Crown Carriage - photo

In 1957 this carriage was presented to Queen Elizabeth II of England, during her visit to Portugal. It was the last carriage in Portugal that was used to transport a member of the royal family.

The carriage was presented to Queen Elizabeth II of England

Lando the Kingslayer.

This at first glance unremarkable carriage does not leave the Portuguese of different political views indifferent.

Lando the Kingslayer

It was in this carriage that the penultimate king of Portugal, Don Carlos I, was killed and the heir to the throne, the future last king, Don Manuel, was wounded.

Lando the Kingslayer - photo

The tragic event took place on February 1, 1908, when the royal family was returning from Vila Viçosa. The action played out in Lisbon’s Place de la Comércio.

Anyone can see the bullet marks on the carriage doors that struck the king and prince. Queen Amelia tried to protect her husband and drive away the murderer with the only “weapon” she had – a bouquet of flowers.

bullet marks

Postal Stagecoach

A fine example of 19th-century Portuguese public transportation. This stagecoach operated between Lisbon and Porto. At the time it took several days to get there.


The stagecoach made stops to change horses. It could carry fifteen passengers and a coachman. The seats were of different classes: two first class, four second class, and the third class was placed on the roof of the stagecoach, where poor people sat on boxes and bales with their belongings.

As the railroads began to operate, stagecoaches began to be sold to wealthy families with out-of-town estates. Although, some stagecoaches were still used for their intended purpose in inaccessible parts of the country.

In addition to these carriages, the museum displays many other vehicles. As well as uniforms, saddles, swords, riding suits – everything in one way or another associated with horse-drawn transport.

What has become of the former carriage museum building?

It’s still open to the public, with only seven carriages on display. But if you want to get in touch with history and see the royal carriage house with its elaborately painted ceiling, you can buy a ticket for both museums at a discount.

old carriage museum today

The carriage museum will be fun for adults and children alike. The fabulous carriages can be viewed up close and personal. We are sure everyone will find a carriage to their liking. And afterwards, you can go for a snack of monastery sweets and see how the kings lived in the Ajuda Palace.

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