Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro
Historic Building, Historic Site and Museum in Coimbra
The Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro is a museum located in the city of Coimbra, Portugal. It is named after the famous Portuguese sculptor Machado de Castro, who was born in Coimbra in 1731 and is considered one of the most important artists of the Baroque period in Portugal.
The museum is housed in the former Bishop’s Palace, which was built in the 12th century, and stands over the city’s ancient Roman forum. It served as the residence of the bishops of Coimbra until the 18th century. The building was later used as a military barracks and a prison before it was converted into a museum in the 20th century.
The collection at Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro
The Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro is one of the most important museums in Portugal and has a vast collection of art and artefacts from different periods of Portuguese history. The museum’s collection includes sculptures, paintings, ceramics, and decorative arts, as well as archaeological and numismatic collections.
Architectural Highlights at Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro
Some of the most famous works in the museum’s collection include the Roman cryptoporticus, a subterranean gallery dating from the 1st century AD, and the 16th-century Fountain of the Dolphins, which is considered one of the masterpieces of Portuguese Renaissance sculpture.
Roman cryptoporticus at Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro
The cryptoporticus at the Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro is a subterranean gallery that dates back to the Roman period. It is located beneath the Bishop’s Palace, which now houses the museum, and was discovered during archaeological excavations in the 20th century.
The cryptoporticus is believed to have been part of a larger complex of buildings that served as the Roman forum in Coimbra. It consists of a series of vaulted corridors and chambers that were used for storage and as a passageway between different parts of the forum.
The walls of the cryptoporticus are decorated with frescoes and stucco reliefs depicting a variety of motifs, including mythological scenes, architectural elements, and geometric patterns. These decorations are considered some of the finest examples of Roman art in Portugal and provide valuable insights into the daily life and cultural practices of the Roman inhabitants of Coimbra.
The cryptoporticus is one of the main attractions of the Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro and is open to visitors as part of the museum’s permanent collection. It is a unique and fascinating glimpse into the history of Coimbra and the Roman Empire in Portugal.
Visiting Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro
2pm-6pm Tue, 10am-6pm Wed-Sun
adult/child €6/3, cryptoportico only €3