Portugal's Museums: Portuguese Discoveries Wax Museum, Lagos
Museu de Cera dos Descobrimentos, Lagos
The new Portuguese Discoveries Wax Museum (Museu de Cera dos Descobrimentos) is located in the plush marina area of Lagos. It was from the port of Lagos that many of the ships that sailed to the faraway oceans of Africa, South America and Asia began their long and perilous journeys.
The museum presents the major life-size figures of Portugal's "Age of Discoveries" done in wax. An explanation panel written in Portuguese and English describes each person's actions and achievements in Portugal's history of expansion.
The major figures included in the 22 people presented in 16 historical scenes include Henry the Navigator - the "father of the Age of Discoveries", Vasco da Gama, Gil Eanes, who was born in Lagos and was one of the very first captains to explore the coast of Africa, Bartolomeu Dias, Luís de Camões, author of the classic Os Lusíadas and Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521) the Portuguese navigator and explorer who is credited as being the first European to sail across the Pacific Ocean.
Other characters also featured in the museum include the infamous Borgia Pope Alexander VI, whose papal bulls lead to the Treaty of Tordesillas, which divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between Portugal and Castile, Fernão Mendes Pinto, one of the first Portuguese to reach Japan and Sebastian I, who led the Portuguese army from the port of Lagos to defeat in Morocco at the Battle of Alcazar in 1578. This disaster resulted in the death of Sebastian and the flower of the Portuguese nobility and the conquest of Portugal for a time by Spain.
Overall, the museum was a lot of fun. A bit like being on the colorful set of the Pirates of the Caribbean. One caveat is the English panels, which though perfectly understandable owe more to Google Translate than an edit by a native English speaker. The texts gush with pride at Portuguese feats of endurance, courage and navigational skill with little analysis of any possible downsides for the natives the Portuguese adventurers encountered on their voyages.
Finally after you finish your tour of the museum you can visit the museum shop to pick up an Age of the Discoveries souvenir.
Museu de Cera dos Descobrimentos
Urbanização Marina da Lagos - Edifício Astrolábio, Lote 24 Loja 3 8600-315 Lagos
Tel: 282 039 650
GPS: 37º06'42.4''N 8º40'31.0''W
Hours: Open daily Monday - Sunday from:
March to June: 10am - 6pm; July and August: 10am to 8pm; September and October: 10am - 6pm; November - February: 10am - 5pm
Admission: Children from 4 - 11 3 Euros; Seniors over 65 years old 4 Euros; Adults 5 Euros