Housed in the old "Horse Riding Area" of the Belem Palace (now part of the official residence of the president of Portugal), the National Coach Museum is home to one of the finest collections of historic carriages in the world. The original Horse Riding Area was added to the palace in 1787. This housed the Portuguese royal court equestrian academy, the Real Picaria. The academy was originally founded by King Joao V in 1748 at the Alter Real stud farm, in order to teach horsemanship to the Royals. In 1905, Queen Amelia created the National Coach Museum to show off the royal family's extensive collection of European carriages (covering the period between the 16th and 19th centuries). Among this collection is the rarest item; a late 16th century traveling coach for King Philip II. Because the collection is so extensive, the museum comprises two distinct buildings (across the street from each other). During our travels, we've visited many different museums. By far, this was one of the most amazing and interesting attractions. We would highly recommend this be on your "must see" list of places to visit while in Portugal.
Now the National Coach Museum, this building was originally the Real Picaria. Members of the Portuguese royal family would watch horsemanship exhibitions from this second floor balcony.
A 1907 photograph of the museum, when it first opened.
Queen Maria I used this ceremonial coach in 1790.
King Philip II traveled from Madrid to Lisbon in this coach during 1619.
Some ceremonial coaches were much more elaborately decorated than simple traveling ones.
Emperor Joseph I of Austria presented this 1708 coach to his sister, Maria Ana, upon her marriage to King Joao V of Portugal.
The museum also houses a substantial collection of historic fire service vehicles...
...including steam powered pumpers.
But, by far, the most impressive are the ceremonial vehicles, such as this 1715 coach presented to King Joao V of Portugal by the Pope.
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.