Museums in Portugal

Teatro Romano (Roman Theatre)

This museum shows Lisbon during the time of the Roman Empire. The theater was built in the first century BC by Emperor Augustus, then renovated in the time of Emperor Nero, 57 AD , such as to accommodate some 5,000 spectators.
Founded: c. 27 BC | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Sacred Art and Archaeology Museum

The Museum of Sacared Art and Archaeology, part of Porto"s Seminário Maior de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, is housed in a 17th Century wing of the former Jesuit College. The museum"s remarkable, rich and varied treasures are accommodated in a dynamic and artistically vibrant space that is open to the community and engaged in conserving and communicating the collection. What was once known as the "corridor ...
Founded: 1958 | Location: Porto, Portugal

Navy Museum

The Navy Museum is a maritime museum in Lisbon, dedicated to all aspects of the history of navigation in Portugal. It occupies a part of the neo-Manueline Western wing of the Jerónimos Monastery with the National Museum of Archaeology, as well as a modern annex built to the North of the monastery. The history of the museum is connected to King Luís I (1838-1889), who had a strong interest in oceanographic s ...
Founded: | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum was founded in conformity with Calouste Gulbenkian"s (1869-1955) last will and testament. He was a British businessman and philanthropist of Armenian origin. He played a major role in making the petroleum reserves of the Middle East available to Western development and is credited with being the first person to exploit Iraqi oil. The permanent exhibition and galleries are distributed chron ...
Founded: 1957 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Museu do Traje

Located in the historic centre of the city, the former Bank of Portugal building has housed the Costume Museum since 2004. Here you can appreciate the ethnographic wealth of the traditional costumes of Viana. The exhibits also include the tools used to produce the handmade garments, alongside the permanent exhibitions A lã e o linho no traje do Alto Minho (Wool and linen in Alto Minho garments), Traje à Vianesa (Viana ...
Founded: 2004 | Location: Viana do Castelo, Portugal

São Bento Palace

The Palácio de São Bento is the home of the Assembly of the Republic, the Portuguese parliament. The Palace has its origin in the first Benedictine monastery of Lisbon, established in 1598. In 1615, the monks settled in the area of the Casa da Saúde (Health House), that housed people sick with the plague. The new monastery was built during the 17th century following a Mannerist project by Jesuit architect Baltazar Álv ...
Founded: 1598 | Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Soares dos Reis National Museum

Soares dos Reis National Museum is the first Portuguese national museum exhibiting collections of Portuguese art, including a collection by Portuguese sculptor António Soares dos Reis, from which the museum derives its name. The museum was founded in 1833 as Museum Portuense by King Peter IV. Initially it was housed in the Convent of Santo António (in the centre of Porto), exhibiting religious art confiscated from ...
Founded: 1833 | Location: Porto, Portugal

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Lorca Castle

Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.

Muslim Era

It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.

After Reconquista

Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.

Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.

The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.

The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.

Modern history

With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.

Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.