The Museu do Caramulo is situated in the spa town of the same name, high in the hills of the Caramulo mountain range, about 120kms south east of Porto in Portugal. The art and car museum was the brainchild of the brothers Abel and Joao Lacerda, who loved their town and wanted to give it something that would attract visitors, and keep it alive, after the sanatorium that had been its main source of employment and income closed in the early fifties. The decision was made to open an art museum in a purpose-built building in the centre of the town. The new building was constructed around the cloisters of an old monastery, which were carefully dismantled in their original location and reconstructed in Caramulo. The younger brother, Joao, had a classic car collection, and as there was free space in the building, he decided to incorporate these into the museum, thus giving Portugal its first automobile museum, which opened to the public in 1959.
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The art collection is still intact, and occupies the first floor of the main building, with artefacts dating back to B.C. times, and a variety of antique furniture, sculptures, tapestries and original paintings, including works by Dufy, Rodin and Picasso. The bulk of the car and motorcycle collection is owned by the Lacerda family, and there are occasional changes with the loan of cars by friends, the collection being housed on the ground floor of the main building and another alongside. The cars all get regular use, so the second building was designed with easy vehicular access in mind, and also contains the museum gift shop. The main building also features a toy display room, crammed with a wide variety of toys through the ages, predominantly cars and trucks, but also military figures, aircraft and games.
The range of full size vehicles on display is eclectic, ranging from a re-creation of what is generally regarded as the first petrol driven vehicle, an 1886 Benz, through a number of pre-war cars, including four Bugattis, a T35 B, a T40, a T57 and a T57 C, to military vehicles like the Dodge truck and VW Kubelwagen, via post war cars as diverse as an Iso Isetta bubble car and a Ferrari F40, to a pair of sports racing cars from this decade. There is also the Ferrari 195 Inter Vignale Coupe, chassis # 0103 S, which the family have owned since 1968, a Lamborghini Miura, a Jaguar XK150 and a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gull Wing”, amongst the more sporting models.
There are also a number of vehicles with interesting histories, like the 1937 Rolls Royce Phantom III that was used by Queen Elisabeth II in 1957, by General Eisenhower in 1960, by Pope Paul VI in 1967 and Pope John Paul II in 1982, during state visits. Another is a rare bullet-proof 1937 Mercedes Benz W-07 Pullman Limousine that was built for Portuguese President Oliviera Salazar, whilst there is also an ex-Portuguese government 1947 Cadillac Limousine. A real rarity is a 1952 Alba sports car, built in Portugal, featuring a purpose built twin overhead camshaft for cylinder engine, with twin Weber carburettors, twin sparking plugs per cylinder, an aluminium block and cylinder head, which added up to a claimed top speed of 200kph. Add in a varied selection of memorabilia, both around the vehicle displays and in cabinets, and you have a real treat for the car enthusiast who needs a fix while on holiday, or just an excuse to go to Portugal for the weekend.
For more detailed information on the foundation of the museum, and its life, visit the 2002 Story.
10.00 – 13.00 & 14.00 - 18.00
10.00 – 13.00 & 14.00 - 17.00
For further information visit www.museu-caramulo.net
Open year round, except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day morning, New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday morning and Easter Monday.