Collection of Carriages

What's past is prologue


   
Versão portuguesa
   

English version

 

A former barn belonging to Évora Cathedral Chapter, the building that houses the Carriage Collection was purchased by Vasco Maria Eugénio de Almeida in 1959, adding it to the buildings of the Páteo de São Miguel and used temporarily as the headquarters of the Sociedade Recreativa e Dramática Eborense - Évora Recreation and Drama Society - which had occupied the illustrious rooms of the Paço de São Miguel for decades.

Opened to the public in 1998 and upgraded in 2012, the collection features carriages and other means of transport used by the Casa Eugénio de Almeidas from the second half of the 19th century to the early 20th century.

Purchased from Europe's leading manufacturers, carriages arrived in Lisbon by sailboat or steamship, either in pieces to be assembled in situ or already assembled. The luxurious refinement of finishing of the carriages, and the elegance of the horses which pulled them, also imported from France, Antwerp and England, the laborious minutiae of harnessing, the skill of the driver and coachman, and the cost of purchasing and keeping carriages constituted, in 19th century urban environments, a clear manifestation of the social status of their users.

Members of the upper class, the Eugénio de Almeida family settled in Lisbon, and carriages and “social drives" were one of the many features of their colourful lifestyle.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, carriages were progressively replaced by the car, which was faster and more comfortable.

In the case of the Eugénio de Almeida family, this transition began with the purchase of the first car in 1907. Work was carried out to convert the stables located in the St Gertrude Park, part of the Palácio de São Sebastião da Pedreira in Lisbon into a "car station" while the "outdated" carriages were sent by rail to the family properties in Évora.

Decades later, when these carriages were no more than mere antique curiosities, recorded in family albums, progress was once more interrupted with the outbreak of a new world conflict: during the Second World War, the need arose to restrict the use of fuel, required for the war effort involving mechanised combat.

Rationing was imposed in many countries worldwide, and as petrol became unobtainable and cars ground to a halt, the old carriages were rescued from obscurity. Harnesses, whips, and lanterns, now battery-powered, appeared once more in the streets, and the sound of horses’ hooves and carriage wheels were heard once again.

When the war was over, the situation was quickly reversed and cars were crowned king once again. Despite being abandoned, the family’s carriages and allied equipment were not neglected, and the importance of conserving and restoring them is recognised, allowing us to enjoy a visit to the Eugénio de Almeida Foundation carriage collection.

Opening Times
Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 1pm | 2pm to 6pm
Closed on Mondays, December 25th and January 1st.
Free entry

Guided tours Tuesday to Sunday: booking in advance for a minimum of 5 visitors, included
on the guided tour to the St Michael’s Palace.


Contact

geral@fea.pt
servicoeducativo@fea.pt
Tel. (+351) 266 748 300

 

 

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