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Created at the initiative of Queen Amélia of Orleans and Braganza, the wife of King Carlos I, the Royal Coach Museum, as it was then known, was opened on 23 May 1905. Amélia, who took a great interest in cultural matters, was aware of cultural value of Royal Household's ceremonial coaches and carriage. With the support of Monsignor Joaquim Boto, Canon of the Patriarchate of Lisbon and the King's Council and Chief Equerry, Cavalry Lieutenant-Colonel Alfredo Albuquerque, she proposed bringing them together in one place, preserving htem and showing them to the public, similar to what had happened for the first time in Paris at the World's Fair in 1900.
The site chosen for the museum was the Royal Riding School at Belém, which was no longer in use and was already being used as a store for some of the most important court carriages. It was here that the queen brought together all the other carriages and coaches belonging to the Royal Household and their respective accessories, which were dispersed amongst the various storage areas and coach houses of the royal palaces. The original collection consisted of 29 vehicles, dress uniforms, harnesses and riding accessories used by the royal family.
When the Republic was proclaimed in 1910, the Museum was renamed the National Coach Museum and to its collection were added other vehicles belonging to the Crown, the Patriarchate of Lisbon and a number of aristocratic houses.
Today the Museum houses a collection considered unique in the world due to the artistic variety and magnificence of the ceremonial vehicles from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and its sheer size. The outstanding vehicles on show include coaches, berlins, carriages, chaises, cabriolets, litters, Sedan chairs and children's carts, constituting a collection of note that gives the visitor insight into the technical and artistic evolution in the means of transport used by the European courts up until the emergence of the automobile. Rounding off the collection is a nucleus consisting of team harnesses, riding tackle, saddles, dress uniforms, ceremonial armoury and 18th-century processional accessories, of which particularly noteworthy are a set of trumpets from the Royal Band, as well as a collection of oil paintings of the monarchs of Braganza dynasty.