Architect Gonçalo Byrne oversaw a total renovation of the museum from 2000 to 2012; in 2014, his outstanding contributions were recognized with the prestigious Rome Prize.
An enthralling synthesis of historical and contemporary architecture, the Machado de Castro National Museum is a must-see. The original structure dates back to the 12th century, when it served as a palace for the Episcopal church. An major repair was place between 2000 and 2012, giving the old building a fresh lease on life.
Contemporary materials like glass and steel blend seamlessly with older masonry. Natural light pours in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, and visitors may see the ancient wonders below on glass pathways. The subterranean Roman cryptoporticus has also been expertly incorporated into the museum's overall design.
If you're looking for the best view of Coimbra, you have to go to the rooftop patio!
One of the most striking artifacts on display at the Machado de Castro National Museum is the Roman cryptoporticus. Indeed, it is one of Portugal's most well-preserved historical artifacts.
A cryptoporticus, though, is what? Underpinning buildings built on difficult terrain with a basement or underground gallery is a hallmark of Roman architecture. The ancient Roman city of Aeminium, upon which modern-day Coimbra was built, included a cryptoporticus.
Subterranean galleries supported by strong columns and arches make up this cryptoporticus. It was built during the time when the Romans ruled the area, which was in the first half of the first century AD.
The cryptoporticus had several uses throughout the years, but it is most famous for its role as the medieval Episcopal palace's foundation in Coimbra. As a result of recent renovations, guests of the museum can now stroll through these halls of history, stepping back in time.
Nestled in the bustling heart of Coimbra, and just a short stroll from the University of Coimbra, Machado de Castro National Museum is conveniently accessible by foot, car, or public transportation.
You can explore the museum from Tuesday to Sunday, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Please note, the museum remains closed on Mondays and on certain public holidays.
At the time of this writing, General Admission is €6. They also offer discounted rates for students, seniors, and groups. Plus, the first Sunday of every month sees free entry for all visitors. Be sure to check their website for updated information.