Created by Queen Amélia of Portugal in 1905, the Museu Nacional dos Coches or National Coach Museum is the home of the most magnificent and valuable collections of royal coaches and carriages in the world.
The carriages reside in what was once the Horse Riding Arena of the Belém Palace in Lisbon. The Neoclassical building is opulent, with balconies and fine works of many Portuguese artists lining the walls, making it the perfect setting to view these transportation artifacts. The coaches themselves are a sight to behold—each one more ornate and gaudy than the next. One favorite attraction is adorned with a gilded scene showing Lisbon being crowned by Fame and Abundance, and a dragon trampling the Muslim crescent with abandon.
Queen Amélia created the museum to showcase the considerable collection of coaches and carriages owned by the nobility and royalty of Portugal, and the assemblage is vast. It does a fine job of displaying examples that span carriage development throughout the 16th-19th centuries—not just in Portugal, but also all across Europe; Spain, Italy, England, Austria and France.