The minute I stepped inside the National Coach Museum, I felt like I’d entered a fairytale. Cinderella’s pumpkin coach had nothing on these! These were the carriages of Kings and it seemed each was more grand and ornate than the last.
Naturally, the display began with the oldest carriage in the museum.
It was magnificent, but as I progressed through time and saw the expanded gilt and artistic intricacy on display, I felt more and more like a peasant. I’m sure I would have never had the chance to ride in something so grand.
These were the carriages of kings. One more opulent than the next. These gave way to princess carriages, queen’s carriages, and all semblance of royalty.
I couldn’t pick out a favorite. I wandered, instead, along the timeline. Carriages became more advanced as a method of transportation. They were no longer confined to kings and queens.
This open-topped carriage was a hunting carriage. It could transport a group of hunters along with their dogs stowed under the seats behind the ventilated openings. Their rifles were stored in a basket hooked to the back.
Another hunting carriage.
Then, an assortment of carriages that were sporting the latest features. Oil lamps mounted on the carriage, which later gave way for electric-powered bulbs.
A German design made of leather was surely the first convertible carriage; you could collapse the panels to open the coach to the air. Another design allowed the passenger to steer the horses from inside the carriage. The driver could see the horses through the eye holes. No coachman needed.
And then carriages started to evolve into something else. First, baby carriages. Then, chairs — enclosed carriages that could be carried on the shoulders of men. Then, carriages meant to carry religious figures. Statues of the Blessed Virgin.
The museum was a historical timeline of transporting Portugal’s most esteemed. Quite different than coaches that mark time in other parts of the world.
I loved the opulence. I was content to spend hours peering at the intricacies of the designs. I loved seeing the carriages’ emergence as a means of transportation for more than kings. I loved the functionality combined with the artistry. I wandered through the museum a few times. Until I finally decided on my favorite.
I want the most opulent of all. My carriage awaits…
Which would you pick?
I would normally probably pass up a carriage museum but you made it sound so interesting! That golden carriage really takes the cake though. I wonder what kind of material that is and how long it took to put one of those together? It’s funny to think how ostentatious royalty was back in the day compared to the modern-day royal families now.
Thanks, Lillian! I love your comparison to the royals today. Can you imagine if they coasted down the street in one of these??
I feel like they would get a lot of flack for being too ostentatious if they did!
They are lovely. Thanks for sharing.
Wow these genuinely look straight out of a fairytale! Reminds me a little of when I went to the Ford factory museum in Detroit – seeing these bygone forms of transportation is truly like entering another era, isn’t it?
It is like entering another era. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to ride in one of these from one European country to another. Or even palace to palace. Or even just imagine seeing one pass by!
Was this Portugal? My only clue was ” Portugal’s most esteemed” and your Portugal tag – where in Portugal is this? Looks like quite an impressive collection!
Thanks for bringing that to my attention, Andi. Yes, this is in Portugal, in Belém. Just outside of Lisbon.
I love the bling. I thought some of the pimped out lowriders were unique but these carriages put those to shame. I think we need more guilding in modern society.
I agree. We need more bling in this world!
These are insane! I guess I haven’t seen a real carriage from way back but this straight up looks like something out of Cinderella. Really cool!
I could only imagine what it would be like to ride in one of these coming down a street with EVERYONE watching.