For every place I travel to, I check out ricksteves.com and see what he has to say about it. Or I watch episodes of the show on Hulu. For Portugal, Rick (we’re on a first name basis) told me to check out the Museu Nacional dos Coches (National Coach Museum) in Lisbon. And I did. (Jordon/Preston/etc: Another “mission from Steves” achieved)
In sum, THIS IS A MUST-SEE, CAN’T-MISS ATTRACTION of Lisbon! I did not know a single thing about coaches, and now I know much more than the average person. It was probably the most interesting museum I’ve been to yet. Here is my jumbled and possibly erroneous summary: First of all, they are ginormous, far bigger than what I imagined in my head or saw in movies. I didn’t even realize how they worked (basically a box resting on a leather straps). There are two types: regular and berlins, which came later and had a different design which allowed for better suspension and was less likely to tip over as it was “tethered” in place by additional leather straps. There were “litters” which were for 1 person and were carried by two people (which is just a bizarre thing to do). And finally mini-coaches! Made for children (aka princes and princesses) to play with and learn how to be proper adults.
One MAJOR drawback to museums/churches is that flash is not allowed and I fail at holding my camera steady. So everything is slightly blurry and I am sorry.
The oldest coach in the collection, but unfortunately I can’t tell you the year. Bummer.
Can you see how big these things are, from the size of that man standing next to it? HUMONGOUS. And with massive sculptures just for show.
This is a game. Horse riders would hit the shield (like jousting sort of) and have to get away before the whip swung around to hit them.
Carried by two mules on either side.
A litter, carried by two people.
For high-speed journeys. And scaring people.
For children! I want one! They would use sheep or dogs to pull them instead of horses. HOW QUAINT!