Portugal's Museums: Porto Museums
Museums in Porto
The Serralves Foundation, comprises a Museum of Contemporary Art (Museu de Arte Contemporânea), the art deco villa Casa de Serralves and a large area of parkland and formal gardens scattered with striking modern art installations and sculptures. The Fundação Serralves opened in 1999 and has become Portugal's most visited museum and a must-see for art fans on any trip to Porto. Located about 4km west of the old city centre, the museum and its beautiful gardens need a half-day to fully appreciate their beauty.
Soares dos Reis
The Soares dos Reis is housed in the historic 18th century Carrancas Palace close to the Jardim do Palácio de Cristal. The Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis was Portugal's first national museum and opened in 1833 as the Museum Portuense to house the works of art confiscated by the state from dissolved monasteries in Porto and throughout Portugal. The museum moved to the Carrancas Palace in 1942, a building designed by architect Joaquim da Costa Lima Sampaio from 1795, as a residence and factory for the Moraes e Castro family. Joaquim da Costa Lima Sampaio was also the architect of the Feitoria Inglesa and the nearby Hospital de Santo António.
FC Porto Museum
FC Porto Museum (Museu Futebol Clube do Porto), at the Estádio do Dragão, is of particularly interest to fans of one of Portugal's top clubs - FC Porto - as well as to fans of the game itself. This large museum is extremely well done and can take a couple of hours to see all the exhibits. FC Porto have been champions of Portugal over 20 times and winners of the 2004 Champions League, when managed by Jose Mourinho, and the 1987 European Cup in a famous 2-1 win over Bayern Munich.
The Photography Museum (Centro Português de Fotografia) is housed in a former 18th century prison, the Cadeia da Relação, which was in use until 1974 and the end of the Portuguese dictatorship established by Salazar. One famous inmate was the writer Camilo Castelo Branco (1825-1890). The building opened as a museum in 1997. Each floor of the prison housed a different class of inmate with the poorest and most dangerous in the dungeons in the basement, women on the second floor and people of rank on the upper floors. The building also included rooms for the prison governor and a small chapel used to minister to the condemned before their execution.
Museu do Vinho do Porto
Museu do Vinho do Porto is housed on the ground floor of a former 18th century wine warehouse, known as "Cais Novo" and displays the history of Porto's port wine trade with a collection of wine from the Companhia Geral da Agricultura e Vinhas do Alto Douro. The history of the port wine trade is intrinsically linked with the history of Porto itself and the museum has exhibits of historic bottles, port wines labels as well as wall panels explaining the process of port wine production. The Museu do Vinho do Porto opened in 2004 and is a short walk west along the River Douro from Alfandega Nova.
Palacio da Bolsa
Palacio da Bolsa (Stock Exchange Palace) is a 19th century Neoclassical building located next to the Igreja de São Francisco (Church of Saint Francis) in the UNESCO World Heritage Listed historic area of Porto. The Palacio da Bolsa was constructed to impress European business people with its extravagant decor and encourage them to invest in Portugal. The ground floor's central courtyard (Pátio das Nações) was the original trading floor and is covered by a large octagonal dome done with metal frames and glass panels, designed by Tomás Soler and built from 1880.
Museu da Misericordia
Museu da Misericordia is located on the historic Rua das Flores in downtown Porto. This beautiful modern museum is connected to the historic 16th century church of Igreja da Misericórdia re-designed in the 18th century by the Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni, whose work can be seen in many buildings around the city including Torre dos Clerigos, Porto Cathedral and the Igreja de Santo Ildefonso. the collections include a beautiful gilded wooden altar along with images of Francisco Xavier, the famous Jesuit, who was active in Asia and Saint Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order.
Castelo do Queijo
Castelo do Queijo (Cheese Castle) is a noted landmark in Foz do Douro, an upmarket suburb on the Atlantic Ocean, west of Porto. The fortress is so-called as the rocks it was built on supposedly resemble cheese. The castle was designed by Miguel l'Ecole and completed in 1661. Inside is a museum (admission charge) dedicated to Portugal's commandos, who saw action in her former colonies in Angola and Mozambique. Uniforms, medals, weapons and insignia are all on display.
Casa do Infante
The Casa do Infante (House of the Prince) in the centre of old Porto is also known as the Alfândega Velha (Old Customs House). The building was first constructed in the 14th century to serve as a customs house and mint. It is believed that Prince Henry the Navigator - the grandfather of the "Age of the Discoveries" - was born here in 1394. Altogether the building served as a customs house for over 500 years.
World of Discoveries
World of Discoveries (Museu Interativo & Parque Tematico) is one of the many museums in Portugal dedicated to the nation's Golden Age between the 15th-17th centuries, when Portugal ruled the waves and led the European colonial drive into Asia, Africa and South America. This new, interactive museum and theme park is great for kids as they learn about world geography, history and navigation through video and historical re-enactment. The Mundo de Sabores restaurant has food from countries and regions associated with this period in Portuguese history: Africa, India, China, Japan and Brazil.
Romantic Museum of Quinta da Macieirinha
Romantic Museum of Quinta da Macieirinha (Museu Romântico) is an 18th century mansion located in the splendid Jardim do Palácio de Cristal. The aim of the museum is to recreate the "Romanticism" of a wealthy residence from 19th century Porto. The house was once the home of Carlos Alberto of Savoy, King of Sardinia and Prince of Piedmont who found exile in Porto and died here a sad and lonely figure in 1849. The "King's Room" is where Carlos Alberto received visitors and the "Sala das Telas" has a number of paintings done in the Romantic style.
Puppet Museum of Porto
Puppet Museum of Porto (Museu das Marionetas do Porto) was the dream of João Paulo Seara Cardoso (1956-2010), the founder of the Porto Puppet Theatre. The museum was inaugurated in 2013 at a building in Rua dos Flores close to the Belomonte Theatre, the headquarters of the Puppet Theatre. Visitors can see many of Cardoso's creations including Cinderela, Bichos do Bosque and Macbeth. The museum also hosts performances of puppetry and temporary exhibitions. The Museu das Marionetas do Porto relocated to nearby Rua de Belomonte, 61 in 2016.
Military Museum of Porto
Military Museum of Porto (Museu Militar do Porto) is housed in a 18th century building that was formerly the headquarters of the secret police - PIDE. The museum has a fascinating collection of around 16,000 toy soldiers produced by various European companies such as Britains (UK) and Elastolin (Germany). Other exhibits include insignia, photographs, uniforms, vehicles, artillery pieces and other weapons. The larger guns and vehicles are in the grounds of the main building.
The Tram Museum of Porto (Museu do Carro Electrico) is run by STCP and is housed in a large former power plant in the west of the city near the banks of the River Douro. The museum displays around two dozen trams that used to run on the streets of Porto including horse-drawn trams that were known as "Americanos" to trams of the 1950's and 1960's. Other exhibits include tickets, uniforms, photographs and other tram-related equipment.
Casa-Museu Guerra Junqueiro
The Casa-Museu Guerra Junqueiro, located close to Porto's Cathedral (Sé) is the former 18th century residence of the politician, poet and author Guerra Junqueiro (1850-1923). The Baroque house, built in 1730 by Nicolau Nasoni, displays the personal collection of Guerra Junqueiro and includes furniture, Flemish tapestries, ceramics, silverware and religious art. The house and its contents where donated to the city of Porto by Junqueiro's daughter in 1940.