Museu dos Coches: The World’s First Coach Museum

One of the largest collections of vehicles in the world can be seen at Lisbon’s Coach Museum in Belém. Beautifully painted carriages dating from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries are housed in a minimalist building.

Opened in 1905, the museum was recently rehoused to a modern building in Belém, expanding its exhibition area and creating new public spaces.

The modern precinct meets heritage in a visit that covers the history of transport and its technical evolution from animal drawn vehicles to the development of motor transport.

Most of the vehicles on display are state and promenade vehicles, originating from the Royal House of Portugal. Some others, Church and privately owned, were added later. The collection covers heavily gilded ceremonial carriages and coaches, mainly ordered by Royalty and high members of the clergy. From the same period are sedan chairs, children’s cabriolets, and even some mail coaches.

Museu dos Coches

To complement the museum’s collection of carriages and coaches, a series of objects linked to the equestrian arts, including beautifully decorated saddles, are exhibited at the Royal Riding School (or Picadeiro Real). Located in the official residence of the President of the Portuguese Republic, former Royal Palace of Belém, the Royal Riding School can be visited with a combined ticket.

The museum has a shop and a library. After the visit, don’t miss eating an ice cream at Santini ice cream shop. Founded in 1949, they serve one of the best handmade ice cream in Lisbon. There’s another Santini located in the Chiado, and one in Cascais (the first shop to open).

Avenida da Índia 136 / Praça Afonso de Albuquerque (Royal Riding School), museudoscoches.pt

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