The new Royal Treasure Museum has opened to the public in Palácio Nacional da Ajuda, in Lisbon, giving a permanent display for the Crown Jewels and pieces of Portuguese royal goldsmithery for the first time. The unique collection is of inestimable heritage value and represents one of the most important collections in the world.
With over one thousand pieces, the collection tells the story of Portugal from the home of its last kings, which was unfinished for 226 years. It comprises rare and valuable jewellery, insignia and decorations, coins and pieces of civil and religious goldsmithery, such as the emerald headpiece of Dona Mariana, what is thought to be the second largest gold nugget in the world, and the tobacco box ordered by Don José from the King of France’s goldsmith in the 18th century.
Housed in one of the largest vaults in the world, with sophisticated security and temperature and humidity controlled display cases, the museum greatly enriches the quality and diversity of Lisbon’s cultural offering in the Belém and Ajuda area.
Eleven Zones over Three Floors
The Royal Treasure Museum highlights the artistic and symbolic value of the pieces, explaining their role in the service of the monarchy, in ceremonial functions, in royal devotion, in diplomatic activity and in 19th-century collectionism. It is divided into 11 zones, each with an in-depth approach to the origin and history of the pieces contained within it.
Highlights include jewels belonging to the State and from the ancient private collections of different members of the Portuguese royal family between the 17th and 20th centuries (Zone 3) and some of the most valuable Crown jewels, including the royal crown, the sceptres, and the two remaining mantles, which played a crucial role in the accession ceremony of each new monarch (Zone 5). Zone 6 includes a group of 23 pieces reserved for the Crown’s greatest public ceremonies, while Zone 7 features the former private collections of King Dom Fernando II (1816-1885) and his son, Dom Luís, who were leading figures in 19th century art collecting and brought together important pieces from home and abroad.
Other precious items within the collection are Orders of Honour, coins and medals, diplomatic gifts, liturgical implements and vestments, textiles and tableware and the Germain Service, a benchmark example of French 18th century goldsmithery due to its quality and rarity, the pieces designed to serve multiple delicacies “à la française” in the style of the European courts at the time.
The museum opened on 2nd June and is open daily from 10h to 19h (until 18h in winter). The entry price for adults is €10, for youngsters (7 to 24 years old) and seniors (over 65 years old) is €7 and entry is free for children up to 6 years and for Lisboa Card holders. There is a family ticket price of €32.
The project was the responsibility of the Directorate General of Cultural Heritage (architect João Carlos Santos) and the National Palace of Ajuda, and the museum layout was designed by “Providência Design”. The execution of the project, including the work in the Palace, was the responsibility of the Lisbon Tourism Association, and monitored by the Directorate General of Cultural Heritage. The scientific management of the Museum is the responsibility of the Ajuda Palace and the operational and touristic management is the responsibility of the Lisbon Tourism Association.
Further information about the museum and exhibits can be found at www.tesouroreal.pt/en