The National Coach Museum has the world’s largest collection of royal coaches and coaches from the 16th to the 19th century. The museum was created in 1905 at the former Belém Royal Palace Riding Stables in Lisbon and is today made up of two buildings: the former Belém Palace Riding Stable (Afonso de Albuquerque Square) and the new front building (Av. India), opened in 2015.

The museum has a unique collection of around 9 000 objects in the world, including predominantly gala or stately vehicles, some traveling and sightseeing, from the 16th to 19th centuries, and cavalry accessories. It has been the most visited national museum in Portugal, with 332,106 visitors in 2017. The new building, which houses most of the collections, is a protection of Paulo Mendes da Rocha (Pritzker Prize 2006) in consortium with Ricardo Bak Gordon and Engineer Rui Furtado.

It is the mission of the National Coach Museum to provide for the promotion, research and conservation of its collections in the firm belief that museums play a central role in the generation of human, social and economic growth. The recently inaugurated building leads the way in the making of new history for the museum, marked by our endeavour to include all of the necessary elements to accomplish this mission.

New National Coach Museum
The new Coach Museum emerges, not only, as a cultural site but also as a public utility space. In the words of the architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha “the Museum has no doors and relates to all of its surroundings”. The project is more than a museum; in the end it functions as an urban infrastructure providing a public utility space for the city.

Thus, two concerns coexist; on the one hand the primary need to expand the exhibition area of the museum and its technical support infrastructure, while on the other, the need to create additional attractions for the most visited museum in the country. Moreover, there was a need to bind one of Lisbon’s most prominent fronts, the Belém monument area, where the construction of the new building has created a new dynamism in the museum’s surrounding area, creating new public spaces and urban walkways in the city that are reminiscent of earlier times.

The new Coach Museum building comprises a main hall with a suspended nave and an annex, which is connected by an overpass, enabling circulation from one building to the other. This layout creates a gantry like structure directed towards an internal square, where the old Rua da Junqueira buildings also face.

The new museum encompasses premises for the permanent and temporary exhibitions, reception halls, and a workshop for conservation and restoration, a contribution towards the development of conservation and restoration activities of this unique legacy.

New spaces have been provided for the Library and the Archive, as well as an Auditorium, which will allow for the organization of a number of cultural activities that will greatly improve the scope of the public programs offered by the museum.

To accommodate visitors, restaurant services, a Museum Shop and a Tourist Information centre have been projected.

Reference must also be made to the surrounding areas of the new building, specifically, the Museum Square, a free public access area intended for the development cultural and leisure activities.


In 1940, a new hall designed by the architect Raul Lino was inaugurated, allowing for the exhibition of more vehicles.

The State Department for Culture acquires the old Army Workshops in Belém for the exclusive purpose of building the new National Coach Museum.

Between 1999 and 2001 a rehabilitation of the building roof coverings and the renovation of the ceiling of the Side Hall was carried out, providing the building with is current configuration.

The Resolution no. 78/2008 of the Council of Ministers decided to execute the construction project of the New National Coach Museum as an anchor project for the rehabilitation of the Belém-Ajuda area and ensures financing for its construction.
The Brazilian architect, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, recipient of the 2006 Pritzker prize, was invited to design the project.

The first brick for the new building was laid on February 1, 2010.

The new building of the National Coach Museum opened to the public on May 23, 2015.

Collection Highlight

Ceremonial vehicle. In the second half of the 17th century, in Berlin, in the reign of Frederic William, a new model of vehicle emerged designed by Berlin. The body was suspended on two strong leather straps stretched lengthwise by means of a cric, a rolling mechanism, with a hatchet break inserted in the rear set of wheels. This type of vehicle is faster and safer than a coach. In Portugal, it was only used by the Royal House in the early 18th century.

Bed Berlin (Dormeuse)
Is a private closed vehicle for travelling, in which both, or one of the seats fold back so that it can be used as a bed.

Brougham or Coupé
The vehicle is named after its English builder Lord Brougham (1839). In France this model also became known as Fiacre because it could be rented in Paris on the streets of Saint-Fiacre and Saint-Martin. It is a city vehicle used in the winter. It is light with four wheels and with two seats. Its body is closed and is connected the footrest and has doors, windows that lower and curtains or shutters for the passenger’s added privacy. To increase transport capacity, a new model was created with round bodied front allowing for an extra seat inside.

Sedan Chair
Urban transport vehicle without wheels. Two or four footmen, with the help of leather straps suspended from their shoulders, using two removable shafts fixed onto two lateral metal supports, carried it. It was used primarily by ladies or members of the clergy and also for transportation of sick people or pregnant women. The Sedan Chairs were also part of processions, transporting members of the clergy. They were used from the 17th to the 19th century.

These types of cars emerged between the 17th and the 19th century in Germany and Poland. In Portuguese the name derives from the Polish word kolaska. It has two seats and a long curved body shaped like a canoe with two main seats, and an additional two seats in the front. For the safety of the passengers, the body has side panels and a door. It has a hood that can be folded back or pulled over to cover the front part of the body.

Promenade vehicle of Italian origin reaching its pinnacle in the 18th century. It was used by the Royal Family in their estates in Queluz, Mafra and Lisbon and was especially attractive to the young princes and princesses. Its body is open, except for at the front, which had a leather panel, used as a door, and has two seats. There is a seat for the groom at the rear end of the car. For the safety of the passengers, it was driven by an outrider. There are two wooden arcs extending downward from the wheel axles, which served as shock absorbers in the event that one of the wheels should come loose.

State Carriage
Carriages originated in England (18th century). During the first half of the 19th century, English technique replaces the influence of the French on the construction of vehicles for the Royal House and the Portuguese nobility, because orders became hard to fulfil due to the instability lived in France caused by the Revolution in 1798. Raising the coachman’s seat in Carriages increased driving safety; the introduction of lanterns improves visibility and greater comfort is achieved with the new suspension system for the body, comprising short straps and C-shaped steel springs.

Charabanc (Char-à-Bancs)
This type of car was born in France during the first half of the 19th century. It is a promenade vehicle, or hunting vehicle, used for small excursions or to bring along guests to hunting expeditions who did not ride. It is long with an open body and three seats, each seating three people. The doors are on the side and the third seat was a folding seat, to allow people to reach the back.

The name of this vehicle comes from the Duke of Clarence, who under the name William IV was King of England in the 19th century. The structure of this vehicle is similar to that of the Berlin, but the front of the body was replaced with rectangular or round windows, making its appearance lighter. The frugal aspect of the body contrasts with the exuberance of the interior decoration comprised of luxurious materials for the blinds and seats.

Ceremonial vehicle for travelling which emerged in Hungary in the mid 15th century in a location named Kocs, which is where the name comes from. The use of the coach became the most important expression of aristocratic power. The body was suspended on leather straps, from a mounting structure affixed to the wheel axels. In the mid 17th century, safety, comfort and driving of coaches improves as a number of introductions are made: the connection of the wheel axle to the rod with two iron arches that resemble a swan’s neck, the suspension springs, and, what became known as the fifth wheel – a mechanism incorporated in the front wheel set, underneath the coachman’s seat, made out of two superimposed circular parts, improving manoeuvring of the Coach. It was used between the 15th century and the 18th century.

The name Phaeton comes from Greek mythology in which Phaeton son of the Sun god, Helios, was driving his father’s car. The first Phaeton emerged in the second half of the 18th century and there are number of different models. Essentially it is a four-wheel vehicle drawn by a pair of horses lead by its owner. It can be used in the city or in the country. Its body is open, and seats are parallel to the axles. The main seat is that of the driver which has a folding hood. There is a smaller seat in the car to seat the servant to hold the horses while the owner stepped off.

Created in the city of Landau, in Germany, this type of car is sought after because of its elegance and because it can be used in good or bad weather. It comes into use in the second half of the 18th century but it was in the 19th century that it became widespread. It is a ceremonial vehicle. It seats four with two seats facing each other, and has two folding leather hoods that can be completely pulled back or closed at the top, leaving a space for the doors and glass windows that can be lowered on either side. It is an extremely ceremonious Car used in the European Courts and late by the Presidents of the Republic. Smaller versions of the vehicle were built and became known as LANDAULET or DEMILANDAU.

Type of vehicle with no wheels (18th century) descending directly from the roman Letica, which allowed for comfortable, fast travel in the narrow city streets and on long journeys on bad roadways. The body, with two seats, could be open, in Italian style, or closed for colder climates. It was drawn by mules harnessed to the sides of the Litter onto fixed poles. Their widespread use and the level of luxury they reached, forced the kings to regulate their use, making it mandatory to have a license or to have a professional activity that would require constant travel, such as Priests, Doctors or Judges.

Mail Coach
A vehicle for the exclusive purpose of official transportation of mail, in an individual compartment, as well as passengers and luggage. Some coaches had indoor and outdoor seats, could accommodate nine passengers, and luggage. The Mail Coach was introduced in 1798 with a route from Lisbon to Coimbra (which took approximately 40 hours) and the route was only extended to Oporto in 1855. During this period operation of the Mail Coach service was interrupted several times. In the south, from 1830 to 1863 there was a route which connected Aldeia Galega (Montijo) to Badajoz in Spain, taking approximately six days. In Portugal the development of the Mail Coach service, was directly correlated to the existence and the condition of roads, and so it disappeared when the rail way was introduced, especially in the coastal regions. Some coaches were bought by private individuals to be used for long trips, to go to the country and for hunting expeditions.

Is a vehicle that was born in England in the 19th century. It is a four-wheel car which is very comfortable for two passengers and has an additional seat in the front which can take two additional passengers. The body was covered with a folding hood and had a coachman’s seat. It is a vehicle for good weather and short trips. This type of car was widely used in Portugal as a rental vehicle and in fact continues to be used in Sintra, for tourist rides.

Half body, two-seat vehicle which emerged in Germany in the 17th century with the name Chaise which in Portugal became Sege. The wheels are connected by two shafts from which hang a stirrup to enter the Chaise. The body is set on two leather straps, just like the Berlin. It could be driven by a postillion, an aide to the coachman who rode on horseback next to the chaise holding the reigns. The four-wheel Chaise was also known as a “traquitana”. This type of vehicle became very popular and became a rental vehicle in and out of the cities in the 17th century and the 19th century.

Related Post

Two-passenger vehicle with an open body and folding hood to be used in good weather. The vehicle was named in England in the 19th century in honour of Queen Victoria. It is similar to the MILORD but the coachman’s seat can be removed it can be driven by the passenger. For this purpose, next to the interior seat there is a break and a bell.

Collections by Type

The Car collection includes coaches, Berlins, carriages, carriages, strollers, litters, sedan chairs, phaeton, my lord, wins, strollers, Charaba and hunting cars, landaus and urban vehicles like clarence, brougham (or coupe) dormeuse (chopping block), breaks, pants and even luggage.

Older cars 16th to 17th centuries – The museum houses some of the oldest coaches in the world. The designation originates in the Hungarian city of Kocs, where the first models were made, then exported to Italy and adopted by all European courts. From this period, in the National Coach Museum, is the Coche de Filipe II that belonged to the king Filipe II (Filipe III of Spain) that used it during his visit to Portugal, in 1619. It is the oldest car in the Museum collection.

Symbols of Power – 18th Century – It is in the reign of King John V that royal power reaches its highest exponent. This ostentation is also reflected in the decorations of the magnificent coaches used in large-scale ceremonies that impressed the people. The apparatus car built by King D. João V for the Portuguese Royal House is an example of this period.

Triumphal Cars 18th Century – Unique examples of Italian Baroque are three main coaches of the embassy of the Marquis of Fonts sent to Rome by King John V to Pope Clement XI in 1716.

18th Century Portuguese Baroque – In the cars of this period, the work of gilded carving and paintings of the boxes reveal harmonious compositions between sacred and profane themes. It is in the decoration of D. José ‘s Coche that we can best observe all the exuberance of the Baroque style in Portugal.

18th Century Princesses Exchange – The double wedding ceremony on the Caia border between a Prince of Portugal and a Spanish Infanta and a Prince of Spain and a Portuguese Infanta, reflects the resumption of good diplomatic relations between the two countries since the Restoration. of independence in 1640. Testimonials of this great event are the coaches and marbles who participated in this trip.

Marbles 18th and 19th centuries – Model car that appears in Berlin in the second half of the 17th century. It is distinguished from the coach by the type of suspension. The box is no longer suspended and now rests on two strong leather straps that give it greater stability and make travel more comfortable.

Ecclesiastical Vehicles – The members of the high clergy had a status equivalent to that of the Nobility and had their own vehicles identified by prelatical weapons. In certain ceremonies religious images were carried in processional marbles.

18th Century Seges – The Seges were vehicles drawn by one or two horses, very discreet and practical for everyday life. They could be driven by the passenger himself or by a bolleiro, a man who rode on a horse beside the sege holding the reins. They were the first rental cars in Lisbon. Sege of the Glasses (Portuguese).

18th Century Strollers – Built in the era of D. Maria I, they are light cars, decorated in rocaille style, pulled by a single horse and used by the Royal Family for walks in the gardens and roofs of the Palaces.

Litter and Seat Chairs – Litter chairs were used in Europe from Roman times to the 19th century because they were easy to maneuver on paths where other vehicles could not circulate. The chairs were used, especially in the narrow streets of the cities, to transport ladies of the nobility, sick or members of the clergy.

Nineteenth Century Strollers – These open-box, single-line, black-leather cars were used for outdoor riding in the countryside or in the city. Wins and Phaetons are models that can be driven by the passenger himself.

Strollers – Small strollers made like adult cars for little princes and princesses to stroll in parks and gardens. They could be pulled by ponies or sheep.

Hunting Cars – Hunting has always been one of the great entertainments of the nobility. In the nineteenth century the Charabans served to transport hunters and escorts to the boardwalks. The ladies could thus sit in these cars watching the hunts in high places.

Gala Carriages – Apparatus cars used by the Royal Family and Nobility at gala parties such as Coronations, Public Entrances, Wedding Courts and Baptisms and in religious ceremonies.

Urban Cars – In the nineteenth century various models of cars closed or open to circulate in cities. They feature innovative technical features that make driving easier and give passengers more safety and comfort. This is where the integrated braking systems, rubber tires, mudguards, different types of shock absorber springs and the bell come up.

Suitcases – Post – They appear in the late eighteenth century to carry mail. These were very robust vehicles pulled by two or more teams and became the first public transport between towns and cities. They carried passengers and luggage inside and on the roof. With the appearance of the train some of these vehicles were no longer useful and were acquired by noble families for tours and hunting.

Other Collections
The museum also has other collections of goods linked to the operation of coaches and courts.

Harness Equestrian
Cavalry accessories and equestrian games where stands the Staph.

Car Accessories
Campaign Bed, Wheel Change Accessory.

Court uniforms.

Weapon Boxes, Swords, Marlins, Halberds.

Musical instruments Real shawm (XVIII century)
Collection of silver trumpets with the royal weapons of D. José, D. Maria I and D. Pedro III, timpani skirts with the weapons of D. Pedro III, music books by Rimpiano, Timpano and Clarin.

Estate Documentary
Architecture Drawings, Coaching Home Decor Drawings, Printmaking & Prints, Photographs, Postcards. Copper Calcography 1ºCCoche of the Embassy of Melo e Castro.

Estate Historical-Documentary
Objects belonging to the Royal House donated or part of the Old Fund, such as the oil portraits of the monarchs of the House of Bragança and Royal Family; landscape painting with iconography of vehicles in processions; Queen D. Amélia de Bragança’s Cloak classified as (Good of National Interest); Tapestries from the Royal Aubusson Manufacturing Workshop; Old museum furniture.

The Project for the New Coach Museum National Building was launched in 2008 to coincide with the inauguration of the Centenary of the Republic celebrations in 2010. With the first stone laid on February 1, 2010 and inaugurated on May 23, 2015, the Project was signed by Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha (Pritzker Prize2006) in a consortium with Portuguese architect Ricardo Bak Gordon and Engineer Rui Furtado. Despite the beauty and charm of the Royal Belém Picadeiro, the need to increase the Museum’s exhibition area and create new technical infrastructures and support services has always been pressing. Thus, after 110 years of operation in the Old Riding Station, the Museum now occupies an area where the former Army General Offices used to be.

The Coach Museum building emerged in Bethlehem as a cultural facility but also as a public place (Back Gordon). In the words of Paulo Mendes da Rocha “the museum has no door and is related to all sides”; the real project is not the building of the museum, but the fact that it, through the “annex”, sews the city’s mesh and highlights the “pavilion” as a great treasure (a 132m x 48m x 12 m cobblestone raised from floor by 14 circular pillars).

With a gross floor area of 15,177m 2, the new construction houses two buildings interconnected by an aerial walkway: the “Exhibition Pavilion” and the “Annex Building”. The “Exhibition Pavilion”, located on the first floor, consists of two large side galleries housing the permanent exhibition and a central nave for various functions; Devoid of any decoration, it has a large ceiling height, a continuous smoothed concrete floor and white walls punctuated by spans or showcases.

The “Annex Building” includes an administrative area, a catering area and an auditorium. For the New Building, spaces were designed for exhibitions, a Conservation and Reservation Workshop, a Library, an area for the Educational Service, an Auditorium, a Shop, a Restoration Zone and even the Museum Square: an access space. It is also a free place for walking and public leisure. Also noteworthy is the pedestrian and cycle path, which follows the façade facing Jardim Afonso de Albuquerque, from Rua da Junqueira to the Belém river station (expected completion 2018).

Conservation and Restoration Workshop
The ample technical space provided by the new National Coach Museum, located on the ground floor encompasses the Conservation and Restoration Workshop site.

Given the wide range of materials and production techniques used, the conservation of animal drawn vehicles requires a multidisciplinary approach involving a cross between conservation and restoration expertise and the skills of traditional knowledge.

The Workshop has been devised to respond to the needs of the museum so as to guarantee the study and requalification of its legacy. It may also become a specialized conservation and restoration centre, operating as a training hub for national and international trainees and fellows.