Carmo Archaeological Museum, Lisbon, Portugal

Ancient Egyptian sarcophagus dating back to the 4th century BC at Museu Archaeologico do Carmo, Lisbon

Ancient Egyptian sarcophagus dating back to the 4th century BC at Museu Archaeologico do Carmo, Lisbon

The Carmo Ruins, named after the ancient Church of our Lady of the Carmo Hill in central Lisbon, make a fascinating home for the archaeological museum which itself is full of surprising artefacts. The church, built between 1389 and 1423 was all but destroyed in 1755 by a massive earthquake, leaving it roofless.

Today it is a spectacle frequented daily by tourists and is often used for art displays. The museum lies at the eastern end of the building, a section restored under the reign of D. Maria I and comprising of six rooms in total.

Inside the largest room of the Museu Archaeologico do Carmo, Lisbon

Inside the largest room of the Museu Archaeologico do Carmo, Lisbon

On display are various items of historical interest including the tomb of Fernao Sanches, the bastard son of King Dinis and whose burial place is decorated with the scene of a wild boar hunt. This particular display dates back to the 14th century and is a marvellous example of stone masonry.

Elsewhere there is more macabre fare on display including two mummified children in glass cases, stitch marks still visible in the skin around the hair line and across their backs. They share a chamber with the sarcophagus of an ancient Egyptian mummy which can trace its roots back to between the 2nd and 4th century BC.

The mummified remains of a young boy on display at Museu Archaeologico do Carmo, Lisbon

The mummified remains of a young boy on display at Museu Archaeologico do Carmo, Lisbon

There are also Columbian artefacts, rich tapestries, an alabaster relief of the resurrection of Christ, a stone statues of Saint Catherine of Alexander and of course, a great library which also houses the gift shop.

The Carmo Archaeological Museum costs 3.50 euros to enter and is well worth a visit, if only to see the roofless cathedral; the collection of artefacts, fine architecture and rich history a huge bonus to boot. It is certainly one of Lisbon’s most interesting locations and should be near the top of any travel itinerary.

Opening hours are 10am to 6pm or 10am to 7pm between June and September. The museum is closed on Sundays, 1st January, 1st may and 25th December.

For more informtion:

The library archive which specialises in archaeology and history is available for use by appointment only.

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