The Castro Guimaraes museum is housed the most architectural interesting building of Cascais. The exterior of the once grand residence is an elaborate mixture of mock gothic, classical Portuguese elements and Arabian stone work and arches. The complex appears much older than the 1902 construction date and was commissioned by the Irish tobacco millionaire Jorge O’Neil whose private art collection is displayed within the museum.
The decorative Castro Guimaraes museum
The museum contains a varied collection of items including 17th century Oriental art, Indo-Portuguese furniture and an assortments of other varied artifacts. The most important item is a 16th century illustrated manuscript based on the adventures of king Alfonso Henriques that also displays the first known representation of Lisbon. Surrounding the Castro Guimaraes Museum are the pretty gardens of Jardim Marechal Carmona. The Castro Guimaraes Museum Cascais and gardens is one of the best museums and sights of Cascais.
The Castro Guimaraes museum is open every day between 10:00 until 17:00 except for Mondays when the museum is closed. The Jardim Marechal Carmona gardens are open every day. As with all museums in Cascais there is no entrance fee. Visitors typically spend around 30 minutes in the museum and approximately 30 minutes in the gardens. The Castro Guimaraes museum is easily locate on the southern tip of Cascais close to marina.
The Castro Guimaraes complex is classified as a museum but it could equally be described as a restored stately home. Each of the rooms contains the original furniture and the lavish decoration that indicate the opulent lifestyle of the house’s previous occupants.
The entire house is open to the public and is spread across over two floors. The most intriguing room is the grand music room that is adorned with classical painted tiles and a highly decorated ceiling. In the library is the 16th century “Chronicles of king Alfonso Henriques” an ancient manuscript that details the history of Portugal’s first king. The book is on display and shows one of the earliest known colour images of Lisbon, which includes a representation of Lisbon castle. The furniture found inside Castro Guimaraes is of the Indo-Portuguese style.
The Castro Guimaraes was commissioned in 1900 by Jorge O’Neil who was of Irish nobility and a close personal friend of King Carlos I of Portugal. The house was originally known as the Torre de Sao Sebastiao (Tower of Saint Sebastiao) and was named after the small 17th century chapel that stands opposite the Castro Guimaraes museum. Jorge O’Neil wealth was based upon the import of tobacco but his businesses fell into bankruptcy in 1912 and he was forced to sell his beloved house to the Castro de Guimaraes a very successful banker.
Castro de Guimaraes altered the exterior and this included the addition of the classical tile paints while insides the interior was altered to the modern styles of the era. Many of the pieces of furniture and decretive objects that are on display are from his personnel collection. The count and countess did not have any children and in their will the house was given to the people of Cascais as a museum and library. The Castro Guimaraes Museum opened in 1930 three years after their death.