Friday, 30 June 2017

Military Museum - Porto

Having finished the conference at Coimbra after the Bussaco weekend I had a half a day to look around Porto before heading home. Porto down by the river Duoro is a wonderful place to just sit back and sip some port, and look at the huge cliffs that Wellington had to overcome during the battle in May 1809.

Seen from the North (French) bank looking upstream the monastery of Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar which Wellington occupied is the large building at right, and the initial crossing by boats was made just beyond that first big modern bridge and before the on in the distance.

However one of the main purposes for the stop was to visit the Military Museum of Porto, suitably found on the Rua do Heroismo!

Its a pretty quirky museum, really just showing the things that came their way, and housed apparently in the old Secret Police HQ! As such it has a bit of everything but few coherent stories (at least in English!)

The pride and joy though is the 16,000 (!) figure toy soldier collection. These are mostly ~54mm Britains and equivalent French and German makes (e.g. Mignot).

It is housed in 5-6 rooms, and is mainly WW1/WW2 and Napoleonic, with Lace Wars, ACW and right back to Biblical thrown in for good measure. There are even some of the "cheesecake" vignette's popular in the 70s with hussar officers and half-clothed serving girls. One "unidentified" group of German force figures is obviously 1/32nd Airfix and there's even an Airfix coastal defence battery! There are also some beautiful flats.

Downstairs is a room with some Napoleonic memorabilia and Portuguese Civil War artefacts (they seem to have had a lot of civil wars). Another room is dedicated to the 1880-1920s uprisings.

Outside is a collection of artillery from late Medieval thru Napoleonic to WW2 (incl an 88mm).

The final area is a big hanger like building (in photo above). One half has more artillery (couple of 25pdrs), a photo history of Portugal's 1950s/60s colonial wars, and exhibits from WW1. The gallery around the upper floor was more interesting for me though with a nice history or arms and armour from medieval thru Napleonics to the end of the 20th Century. Mind you what I took to be the bows and arrows to signify pre-historic weapons were actually those recovered from the 20th century colonial wars in Africa!

So overall, probably not worth a special trip unless your a collector of "proper" toy soldiers, but otherwise worth an hour or two if you're ever in Porto - and Porto has more than enough charms to be worth a long weekend for anyone!

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