The National Railway Museum (in Portuguese, Museu Nacional Ferroviário) is one of the most fascinating museums in Portugal. Located in the city of Entroncamento, in the Santarém district, it’s the perfect place to visit on a day trip from Lisbon – especially if you choose to travel by train to/from the Portuguese capital!
The collection of the National Railway Museum is made up of around 36,000 objects associated with the railway theme, including locomotives, carriages, and wagons since the times of the steam engine. In addition, it has two masterpieces of rail transportation in Portugal on display: the Royal Train and the Presidential Train!
So, do you want to know more about the National Railway Museum: Best Tips For Visiting In 2023? Keep reading!
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- Brief History of the National Railway Museum
- What to See at the National Railway Museum
- Practical Guide to the National Railway Museum
- More Posts about Portugal
- More Posts about Museum Guides
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Brief History of the National Railway Museum
The National Railway Museum was inaugurated on May 18th, 2015, even though the first exhibition area – the Warehouse – opened to the public in 2007. Installed in a 4.5-hectare railway complex, this museum incorporated the Roundhouse in 2008 and, finally, the Steam Workshops in 2015.
These three historic buildings, together with the collection, preserve more than 160 years of Portuguese Railways history. Nowadays, the National Railway Museum has its headquarters in the city of Entroncamento, but it also has seven museum centers spread across other parts of the country:
- Museological Nucleus of Arco de Baúlhe – in the Cabeceiras de Basto municipality and Braga district
- Museological Nucleus of Bragança – in the Bragança municipality and district
- Museological Nucleus of Chaves – in the Chaves municipality and Vila Real district
- Museological Nucleus of Lousado – in the Vila Nova de Famalicão municipality and Braga district
- Museological Nucleus of Macinhata do Vouga – in the Águeda municipality and Aveiro district
- Museological Nucleus of Lagos – in the Lagos municipality and Faro district
- Museological Nucleus of Valença – in the Valença municipality and Viana do Castelo district
What to See at the National Railway Museum
Steam, diesel, and electric locomotives; carriages and wagons of various types and models; equipment and tools; documents, maps, and posters; furniture and decoration; apparel, accessories, and much more. The huge collection of the National Railway Museum is divided into eleven categories:
- Catering (Restauração)
- Communication (Comunicação)
- Document Collection (Espólio Documental)
- Health (Saúde)
- Information and Signaling (Informação e Sinalização)
- Protection and Safety (Proteção e Segurança)
- Rolling Stock (Material Circulante)
- Station and Offices (Estação e Escritório)
- Tariff and Ticketing (Tarifários e Bilhética)
- Tracks and Catenary (Via e Catenária)
- Workshop (Oficina)
And it’s spread over five distinct spaces:
- Warehouse (Armazém de Víveres) – Ticket Office, Shop, Cafeteria, WC, Permanent Exhibition, Temporary Exhibitions’ Room
- Roundhouse (Rotunda de Locomotivas) – Exhibition of steam locomotives
- Steam Workshops (Oficinas do Vapor) – Permanent Exhibition, Royal Train, Presidential Train
- Multi-Purpose Room
- Garden Scale Railway
La Lilliputienne is a toy locomotive, which was built by mechanical engineer Eugène Philippe in the first half of the 19th century, at the request of King Louis Philippe I of France.
Luís Filipe I was the godfather of Infante Luís, the future King Luís I. Therefore, the French monarch decided to offer this children’s steam engine to the Portuguese Royal Family.
Around 1880, King Luís I donated La Lilliputienne to the Public Promenade of Lisbon – a public park where the Avenue of Liberty is now located. In the 20th century, the piece became part of the collection of the Lisbon City Museum. And in 2010, La Lilliputienne was loaned to the National Railway Museum, where it can still be admired today.
This Wall Phone (in Portuguese, Telefone de Parede) dates from 1913/1914 and was manufactured by L.M. Ericsson & Co. These days, the Swedish technology company is known as Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson.
Use in communication between railway stations, this Wall Phone is an Ericsson AB590 model. Among its main features, the two bells at the top and the side crank stand out. The latter served to activate five magnets inside the device, which allowed the generation of the electrical current necessary to make the telephone call.
Due to its state of preservation and the renown of the manufacturer, this is one of the most important pieces of the National Railway Museum!
CP 02049 Locomotive
Did you know that CP 02049 Locomotive (in Portuguese, Locomotiva CP 02049) is the oldest existing locomotive in Portugal?
Designed in 1857 by William Fairbairn & Sons of Manchester, England, it’s a “saddle tank” steam locomotive. It has this curious name because the saddle-shaped water tank rests on the boiler body. In this way, the heat of irradiation is better utilized.
The CP 02049 Locomotive was put at the service of the Royal Portuguese Railway Company shortly after the inauguration of the first railways in Portugal. And it was used to transport passengers, goods, and others until the early 1930s!
The Pejão Locomotive is a mining locomotive, which was built in 1918 by the English house Robert Hudson. Its original destination was small industrial railways – although it ended up being used by the British War Department in World War I, for the transport of food and weapons!
After the war, it was bought in 1922 by the Douro Coal Company (in Portuguese, Empresa Carbonífera do Douro), starting to serve the Couto Mineiro do Pejão railway – hence the name. At that time, its main function was to ensure the movement of coal between the mine wells and the river pier on the Douro River.
The Royal Train (in Portuguese, Comboio Real) is one of the jewels of the National Railway Museum and it’s easy to see why. After all, we’re talking about the first train that was at the service of the Portuguese Royal Family – more specifically King Luís I, Queen Maria Pia, and Prince (and future King of Portugal) Carlos I!
Altogether, there were four different vehicles that made up the Royal Train (in the photo, from left to right): the Prince’s Saloon; the D. Maria Pia Saloon; the Tender (a kind of trailer for the locomotive, which served as a “fuel depot”); and the Locomotive D. Luiz.
CP 1501 Locomotive
The CP 1501 Locomotive (in Portuguese, Locomotiva CP 1501) is a diesel locomotive that arrived in Portugal under the Re-equipment Plan – a program financed by the Marshall Plan (the European Recovery Programme). This is because, at the end of the Second World War, the shortage of coal had reached catastrophic proportions.
In reality, the CP 1501 Locomotive was one of the first wide-track diesel locomotives to operate in the country. First, it was redirected to make the North Line passenger and freight trains. But soon it was also used for other lines, remaining in service until the end of the 2000s.
The Presidential Train (in Portuguese, Comboio Presidencial) is another of the jewels of the National Railway Museum, as it was used by Heads of State between 1910 and 1970, to travel around the country. From 1910 to 1930, the Presidential Train consisted of three carriages inherited from the Royal Train: the Royal Saloon (later renamed the Committee and Security Saloon), the Ministers’ Saloon, and the Restaurant Saloon.
However, in 1930, the Portuguese Railway Company bought what would be called the Head of State Saloon. And in 1940, in addition to the three original carriages having been completely remodeled, the Presidential Train gained a Brake Coach (for carrying luggage) and the so-called Journalists’ Coach.
Practical Guide to the National Railway Museum
1. Take Note of the Opening Hours
The National Railway Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 6 pm, with the last visit being at 5 pm. Besides Mondays, the official closing days during the year are the holidays of January 1st, Easter Sunday, May 1st, and December 25th.
2. Look Out for Discounts
The National Railway Museum offers different types of tickets, depending on the interests of its visitors. For example, the free visit costs €6 (adults from 18 to 64 years old), €4 (seniors over 65 years old), or €3 (children and young people from 6 to 17 years old, students, unemployed), while children up to 5 years old don’t pay admission.
If you prefer a guided tour, tickets cost €8 (adults from 18 to 64 years old), €5 (children and young people from 6 to 17 years old, and students), €4.5 (seniors over 65 years old), €4 (unemployed), or €2 (children up to 5 years old). In both cases, there’s also a Family Ticket at €15 (free visit) or €21 (guided tour).
TIP: Check out the benefits of the partnership between the National Railway Museum and CP – Comboios de Portugal!
3. Visit Other Points of Interest in Entroncamento
As I mentioned in the introduction, Entroncamento is a perfect destination to discover on a day trip from Lisbon or on a road trip through the Médio Tejo sub-region (or the Santarém district). Therefore, take the opportunity to visit other points of interest, such as the Church of the Sagrada Familia, José Coelho Square, or Bonito’s Green Park!
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