Housed in a former grand palace—the yellow-walled Palácio Alvor—Lisbon’s National Museum of Ancient Art (Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga) contains the best collection of Portuguese art in the world. The stunning building also showcases key works by other European artists including Piero della Francesca and Albrecht Dürer.
The National Museum of Ancient Art’s collection comprises more than 40,000 items including oil paintings, sculptures, and illuminated manuscripts along with other artifacts. Highlights of the collection include Nuno Gonçalves’ Panels of St. Vincent, a unique “group portrait” depicting important members of the Portuguese court in the 15th century. Another must-see work is a portrait of St. Jerome by Dürer, painted in the early 16th century.
The ancient art museum is a popular stop along hop-on hop-off bus or tram tours of the city.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The National Museum of Ancient Art is ideal for art lovers, especially those interested in Portuguese and European painting and sculpture from the 13th to 18th centuries.
- You can book guided tours with museum staff in advance.
- Discounts are available for senior citizens and students, and entry is free on the first Sunday of each month.
- There’s a great view of the river from the square adjacent to the museum.
- The museum is accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The ancient art museum is on the edge of downtown Lisbon. Public transportation makes getting there easy: Take tram 15E, 18E, or 25E, or bus 713, 714, 727, 728, 732, or 760.
When to Get There
The museum is open 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Sunday year-round, with a few holiday closures. Most visitors spend around two hours exploring the exhibits. The museum makes a nice spot to cool off on hot summer days.
Take a Stroll in Jardim da Estrela
The Star Garden (Jardim da Estrela) is a charming park in Lisbon with walking paths, pools, and shaded benches. There’s a café serving coffee and light snacks, and a children’s playground too. It’s popular with locals but is also great for visitors in need of a break from museums and city sightseeing.