The National Ancient Art Museum is a testimony of the Portuguese cultural heritage. Founded in 1884, the museum is located in a former palace, the Palácio dos Condes de Alvor, which contributes to its grandeur and charm. Today, its collection covers more than 500 years of art history, with pieces of sculpture, painting, goldsmithing and decorative arts from Europe, Africa and the Orient.
Comprising over 40,000 items, the museum’s importance goes beyond its collection. The National Ancient Art Museum plays a vital role in educating visitors about the country’s history and artistic achievements, thus making it an important cultural institution in Lisbon.
The architectural beauty of the National Ancient Art Museum
In addition to its impressive collection, the National Ancient Art Museum is a typical example of Portuguese civil architecture of the time. The building’s design reflects the grandeur and elegance of the palace it once was, with its ornate façade and intricate detailing.
Firstly, upon entering the museum you are greeted by a stunning central courtyard adorned with beautiful tiles and surrounded by arched corridors. In addition, the museum has two rooms with square-painted ceilings, attributed to the Florentine artist Vincenzo Bacherelli. In the mid-18th century, other ceilings were decorated with stucco with a whimsical rocaille pattern by the artist Giovanni Grossi.
The most recent modernization works were carried out in 1983 and between 1992-1994 by the architect João de Almeida. These interventions made it possible to enlarge the exhibition spaces, increase the areas of technical and administrative services, so that better conditions for visiting the museum were developed.
The National Ancient Art Museum’s must-see exhibitions and collections
Wandering through the galleries of the National Ancient Art Museum, you will find a diverse range of exhibitions and collections that showcase the artistic brilliance of different periods. One of the most important paintings is undoubtedly the “Veneration of St. Vincent”, considered an important historical document, which portrays some personalities such as Henry the Navigator. The Panels of St. Vincent, as this collection is known, is attributed to the famous court painter of King Afonso V, Nuno Gonçalves.
Another must-see exhibition is the European paintings collection, which features works by renowned artists from across the continent. From the hauntingly beautiful paintings of Jheronymus Bosch to the captivating portraits of Albrecht Dürer, these masterpieces are a testament to the skill and creativity of European artists throughout history. However, the collection also includes works by Flemish, Italian and Spanish painters, providing a comprehensive overview of European art.
Tickets, schedules and accessibility
To get the most out of your visit to the National Ancient Art Museum, it’s important to plan ahead. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, with opening hours varying according to the day. It is therefore advisable to check the museum’s website for the most up-to-date information on opening times and any temporary closures.
Tickets can be purchased at the museum’s box office or online. The museum offers different ticket options, including discounts for students, seniors and families. It is therefore recommended that you buy your tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to avoid long queues and ensure a smooth entry.
The National Ancient Art Museum is committed to providing accessibility for all visitors. Audio guides and descriptive texts are provided to enhance the experience of visually impaired visitors. If you have any specific accessibility requirements, it is advisable to contact the museum in advance to ensure a comfortable visit.
Time to buy a souvenir or drink a coffee
Before leaving the National Ancient Art Museum, don’t forget to stop by the museum’s gift store. Here you will find a wide variety of books, postcards and other souvenirs related to the museum’s collection. Since there are souvenirs and gifts perfect for art enthusiasts.
If you get hungry or need a break, the museum also has a café where you can relax and enjoy light refreshments.
What should we do next?
The National Ancient Art Museum is located within walking distance of the famous Belém Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a symbol of Portugal’s maritime history. The Jerónimos Monastery, another architectural masterpiece, is also nearby and worth a visit.
For those looking for something different, we also have the solution. Come and discover Lisbon from another angle! Observe the National Ancient Art Museum and many other monuments from the Tagus River. During the boat tour we will also tell you a little more about the history of Portugal and the monuments you observe.