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I have a fondness for smaller museums, tiny gems that are off the beaten track. Usually housed in old palaces or mansions that are as interesting as the art themselves. Places like the Musee Ceramique in Paris. In Lisbon, a small museum a block from our apartment in Alfama fit the bill. The “Museu de Artes Decorativas Portuguesas – Palácio Azurara” is part museum, part historic home and part school of art conservation.
The palace is filled with the personal collection of a wealthy man who made it his mission to buy up Portuguese art. There are some really lovely rooms in the palace – and pieces of detailed furniture that show Portugal’s trade connections with Indian and other countries. Upstairs, you get to see living quarters designed to match the 18th century styles – with small, dark rooms and heavy carved furniture.
There’s also a cafe on-site that offers a $10 lunch buffet with about three courses. You don’t have to pay the museum entrance fee to eat in the restaurant.
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