This vast, windowless building in Lisbon's former docklands long served as a warehouse for stocking that staple of Portuguese diet: bacalhau, or salt cod. Architects complained that the delicacy's pungent piscatorial odor still lingered as they worked to convert the iconic 20th-century construction into a museum. It opened in 2008 as a celebration of Portugal's historic ties with the Far East. Today, the briny scents have faded but the dark space still evokes the ocean, recalling an age of maritime adventure when explorers, traders, and missionaries set out from Lisbon in search of the exotic orient. The main permanent exhibition is dedicated to the Portuguese presence in Asia and fills 1,500 square meters (16,000 square feet) with an eclectic collection of treasures ranging from startling, larger-than-life statues of Jesuit martyrs, to suits of Samurai armor, exquisite Chinese snuff bottles, and rough-hewn ritual masks from East Timor. With the aim of broadening inter-cultural understanding, the museum regularly hosts temporary exhibitions showcasing contemporary Asian artists, such as Beijing's Jiang Shanquing, as well as a collective show by 15 young artists from Macau. Visitors can join workshops on topics such as Javanese percussion, modern origami, the use of spices in Indian cuisine, and more. Speaking of which, the top-floor restaurant offers international cuisine and sweeping views over the River Tagus.
Museu do Oriente
Avenida Brasília, Doca de Alcântara (Norte)
Our Rating Neighborhood Alcântara Hours Tues–Sun 10am–6pm, Fri 10am–10pm; closed Mon, Jan 1, Dec 25 Transportation
Train: Alcântara Mar; tram: 15E, 18EPhone 21/358-5200 Prices 5€ adults, 3€ seniors, 2€ students and children 6–12, free children 5 and under, 12 family€ (2 adults w/3 children 17 and under); free for all Fri 6pm–10pm Web site Museu do Oriente