"Ancient Art for Modern Taste" Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga Tip by J_Antunes

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon: 21 reviews and 50 photos

  Resemblance between Salazar and the painting
by J_Antunes
  • Resemblance between Salazar and the painting - Lisbon
      Resemblance between Salazar and the painting
    by J_Antunes
  • The museum - Lisbon
      The museum
    by J_Antunes
  • Chá da Lapa - Lisbon
      Chá da Lapa
    by J_Antunes
  • Ancient Art for Modern Taste - Lisbon

I only went once to the Ancient Art Museum of Lisbon. It was a hot summer day, I didn’t want to go home and I thought how nice and fresh would be inside the museum. All I have to say is that the museum deserves much more than just an escape from bad weather conditions. It is true that it is not exactly my cup of tea. Too much religious paintings and artifacts for my taste but still, amazing works of art. Most of the collections of the museum are actually pieces that came from monasteries and churches throughout the country after the religious orders were extinct (1834).

Set in a big XVII century palace, that was property of Marquês de Pombal and not far from Santos District, it is relatively close to a 15E stop (you just have to stop by the big set of stairs and go up). The museum has an excellent collection of portuguese art throughout from the medieval times to the XIX century.

It was opened in 1884 and the name of the street, Janelas Verdes, means litteraly green windows, the colour of the windows of the museum.

I would call a special attention to the panels of São Vicente de Fora, dating back to the XV century and done by Nuno Gonçalves. The paintings were found by luck when the church of São Vicente de Fora was being restored many years ago. Apparently the paintings were used as a board in a scafander. So it was pure luck that they survived. The paintings are amazing because it has a construction rare in the entire world. It has 6 parts that show the faces, dresses and ways of being of the Portuguese society of the XV century including famous names such as Henry the navigator. Some people said that Salazar (the portuguese ditactor of the XX century) done a retouch to the painting adding his face amongst the others. Of course there isn't any evidence of that but still, it is curious the resemblance and it was used as political propaganda. Another curious figure is the presence of a wealthy jew in the painting. Having an extreme influence in Portugal in its first centuries their presence in pictures is not very frequent.

Other amazing painting is the one of Bosch a dutch painter that did these amazing scenes of hell. Lisbon has one of the most famous of all called the Temptations of Saint Anthony.

From the religious pieces you have the famous custódia de belém, the main ceremonial piece of the Jerónimos Monastery, dating from the XVI century and done with 500 coins "given" by the king of Quíloa in Africa. The relic of Madre de Deus Convent (where you have today the tiles museum) is supposed to be a torn of the crown of Christ.

Other important artists present in the collection are Durer, Cronach or Pierro de la Francesca.

Of course a museum about portuguese art has a significant part dedicated to the trips of the portuguese throughout the world. From China porcelan to Japan nanbam art (the art to portraiting the foreigners developed in Japan when the portuguese arrived; in some sort it lives today in the Japanese cartoons, what have I said, art teachers will kill me), a bit of everything is represented (if you enjoy this sort of art check the Oriente Museum, an amazing place).

There are also other arts such as ceramics, gold, jewelry, tapestry, textiles, furniture, etc... There is also a chapel inside.

Another nice thing about the museum is the restaurant/cafeteria. It has a very nice esplanade and garden that has views over the city and serves tasty dishes in a sort of self service way. A plate costs 9€ and is well served.

In front of the main entrance you have another beautiful palace called Palace of Condes de Óbidos. It is closed to the public but can be rented for events (such as weddings, conferences, etc...). If you just want to visit the palace (see some pictures in http://www.cruzvermelha.pt/palacio/galeria_imagens.asp) you can, shh I didn't told you this, just pretend that you want to rent the space and visit it (phone 213 913 931/0). It is the headquarters of the portuguese red cross. I would say renting this will probably cost around 2.000€, just a wild guess.

Close by, in 8, Rua dos Olivais you have another nice place to go called Chá da Lapa. Unfortunately never been there but for what I know is a small hidden coffee, with a nice and old decoration that serves teas and home made cakes. From the Ancient Art Museum to the Chá da Lapa you pass by a beautiful square with a very nice fountain. It is connected with the impressive underground water system dating back to XVII century and that brought water from the mountains through the Aqueduto das Águas Livres.

In the area around there are many beautiful palaces and churches and the Latin American House that does many events.

Other informations about the museum:
Tuesday: 14h00 - 18h00.
Wednesday to Sunday: 10h00 - 18h00
Closed: Monday and holidays of 1st January, Easter Sunday, 1st of May and 25th of December.
Tickets are sold until 17h30.

4 €
Free Entry: Sundays and Holidays until 14h00, children until 14 years old.

Address: 95, Rua das Janelas Verdes
Directions: It is in a hill between downtown and Belém in the Santos/Lapa District
Phone: (351) 21 391 28 00
Website: http://www.mnarteantiga-ipmuseus.pt/

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Was this review helpful?

  • Written Jan 26, 2009
  • Send to a Friend
  • Add to your Trip Planner
  • Report Abuse


J_Antunes Lives Here!


“Feeling the travels!”

Online Now


Top 5,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 1 6 5 7
Forum Rank:
0 0 8 6 4

Have you been to Lisbon?

  Share Your Travels