With nearly 400,000 visitors per year, the National Coaches Museum, Museu Nacional dos Coches, is one of the most visited museums in Lisbon, and it is one of the largest and most valuable collections of horse-drawn carriages in the world.
Originally the museum was housed in The 1905 Royal Riding School which was part of the Belém Palace.
Queen Amélia de Orleans and Bragança, the wife of King Carlos I of Portugal, went into the royal riding school (O Picadeiro Real) one day and discovered the huge collection of carriages owned by the royal family and decided to preserve and display them.
After 110 years in existence, the museum moved to a brand new minimalist building designed by Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha in 2015.
What can you see at the museum?
The museum holds 17th to 19th-century carriages owned mostly by Portuguese royalty. The National Coach Museum has one of the two oldest carriages in the world, dating from the late 1500s as part of the collection.
Highlights of the collection include carriages owned by King Joāo V (1706 – 1750), whose coaches were the flashiest among the European royalty.
Among the most impressive carriages are a trio from the 18th century – The Coach of the Oceans, The Coach of the Ambassador, and the Coach of Lisbon’s Coronation. They were part of the procession of carriages of the Portuguese embassy to Pope Clement XI in 1716.
They are all adorned with elaborate sculptures and carvings. These coaches are world-class sculpture gardens on four wheels. Something from a fairy-tale.
There are carriages that were designed for royal weddings.
Another was used by Queen Elizabeth on her state visit to Portugal in 1957.
You will also see childrens’ coaches which were pulled by ponies.
One large carriage, the Charabã, has four benches. Used as a hunting vehicle, it could be an early version of a bus.
In all there are seventy-eight carriages in the museum. Most are from the pre-automobile era.
Visitors can inspect a mail carriage, a prisoners’ carriage, and even the first motor vehicle to be used in Portugal – an 1895 Panchard et Lavossor from France.
You can also see a variety of berlins, rickshaws, sedan chairs, chaises, and litters that were carried by servants.
The displays are explained in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
The old Royal Riding School building was built by Italian architect Giacomo Azzolini in 1726. It houses eight carriages, as well as an assortment of saddles, tools, and coachman’s uniforms.
The building itself is ornate and features Portuguese tile and painting, arcades with paneled upper galleries, and a frescoed ceiling.
Click here for a virtual tour of the museum: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=crADZwGeEXF
The museum sells beautifully illustrated guide books, and also has an app available via the Apple app store or google play.
Official website: http://museudoscoches.gov.pt/pt/
Museum – New Building -Tuesday to Sunday 10 am – 6 pm (last entry 5:30 pm). Closed Mondays.
Museum – Royal Riding School – Wednesday to Monday 10 am to 6 pm (last entry 5:30 pm). Closed Tuesdays.
Closed on January 1, May 1, Easter Sunday, June 13, December 24, 25.
National Coach Museum €8
Royal Riding School €4
Royal Riding School + National Coach Museum €10
Calçada Real Ticket (Ajuda National Palace + National Coach Museum) €12
Reduced price for senior citizens
Free Admission with the Lisboa Card. For more information, see my article Lisboa Card | Everything you need to know
How to get to the Museu Nacional dos Coches
Praça Afonso de Albuquerque 1300
GPS Coordinates: 38.69676903631207, -9.198382329230215
Train: The Coaches museum is next door to the Belém train station. from Cais do Sodré take the train to Cascais and get off at Belém.
The trip takes seven minutes.
This is the fastest way to get to the Coaches Museum.
You can also take Tram 15E
Bus 14, 27, 28, 29, 43, 51
Other attractions near the National Coaches Museum
- Ajuda National Palace Ajuda National Palace: A quick guide
- Museum of Art Architecture and Technology MAAT Visit Lisbon’s Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT)
- Pastéis de Belém bakery The big difference between Pastéis de Belém and Pastéis de Nata
- Jerónimos Monastery Is the Jerónimos Monastery worth visiting?
- Monument to the Discoveries Lisbon’s Monument to the Discoveries | Everything you need to know
- Belém Tower Surprising Belém Tower facts
- Ponte 25 de Abril A guide to Lisbon’s most famous bridges
To learn more about the Belém neighborhood, read my article Lisbon’s historic Belém neighborhood | Everything you need to know
Thank you for reading. To learn more about other museums in Lisbon, see my article, Finding the most interesting museums in Lisbon
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