Maritime Museum

Maritime Museum (6)

Lisbon’s maritime museum could not be found in any other area than Belém, a district that saw the uncertain departures and glorious homecomings of the New World explorers during Portugal’s golden age.  

The Maritime museum is one of the most important, renowned and visited museums in the Portuguese capital.

Opened in 1962, it is located in the west wing of the “Jerónimos” monastery and was where the explorer Henry the Navigator, in whose memory the Monument to the discoveries was erected, built a chapel for sailors to worship in before setting out to sea in search of new marine routes and lands. It therefore seems an ideal location for a museum that represents Portugal’s greatest naval period.

If in 1962 the museum opened its doors, it was one hundred years earlier that King Luis I, the only Portuguese monarch  ever to command a ship, started to write the history of the maritime museum. The king’s objective was to preserve history, create a collective national memory and recall to mind the country’s glorious past. 

In the museum’s galleries you can find a collection of miniature ships that roamed the world’s seas. In a very informative way these models chronicle the progress of nautical engineering from the mid 15th century onwards. It is an ideal display for those interested in this area, allowing them to understand Portuguese nautical knowledge and see in miniature detail first boats, submarines, warships and freighters from this century.

In addition, rudders, uniforms, treasure troves, globes, Vasco de Gama`s maps and lots more are on display and perfectly convey the world as it was in that period.

If after all those models you still want to see more, the Maritime museum keeps an extra something up its sleeve: a pavilion in which are displayed original royal boats from different centuries, including a brig built at the end of the 18th century by Queen María I.

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