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Porto’s World of Discoveries Museum – Relive Explorers’ Times

By Amy Munice with photography by Peter Kachergis

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As you walk in to the museum Henry the Navigator greets you

 

Henry the Navigator greets you and welcomes you to his world.   

 

It’s a more global world than the generations before him knew.

 

The ticket taker, guides and guards all wear costumes from the Age of Discoveries

 

Beautiful models and informative display info in the first exhibit room teaches you about the kinds of boats used and perfected during the Age of Discoveries

 

You then study the antique maps that were the Google Maps of their day

 

When Henry leaves off, the knowledgeable guides dressed in garb typical of the Age of Discoveries pick up the conversation.  

 

Navigation maps from the Age of Discoveries

 

Our guide Filipe Reis shared that he had a passion for history-- and that he has taken drama classes. Both skills come into play in his line of work

 

And then the guides then escort you to your own ship in a canal to re-live the wonders of first-time sightings in Goa, Timor, Japan, Africa, Brazil, and more. 

 

And then the museum tour continues to take you to the lands that the Portuguese explorers were finding. From exotic deserts...

 

to African savannahs...

 

If you think the Internet has changed everything, think back to a time when food didn’t have spice.  Pepper or Facebook?  -- to this sometime food reviewer that’s a very easy choice!

 

and on a boat ride that keeps you in suspense as to what is around the corner..

 

..sometimes surrounded by jungle animals...

 

You get to guess what the rope was used for-- and you find out it was THE toilet paper on the ship

 

..or places where the spices were found that revolutionized European cuisine

 

If you want to really know when globalization of the world economy began, accuracy demands that you dial back to these explorers’ times. 

 

That lone sailor you see here was sick. Otherwise, that was a bed for three aboard the ship!

 

Porto’s World of Discoveries Museum escorts you there with an interactive journey to get to know the life and times of the great Portuguese explorers. 

 

Entrance to the World of Discoveries

 

What a mistake it would have been to have missed this fun journey—something we almost did for fear we were going to a dumbed down childrens’ museum. 

 

In the "What do you know!" category, we learned that the flip down protective masks in armor and the need to distinguish friend from foe was the genesis of the soldiers' salute that persists to this day. A soldier would have to flip the face mask up and hold it there with his hand, so friends could see he was not a foe. That gesture endured as the soldiers' salute

 

Yes, there is much for children to enjoy, but this is one of the world’s few museums that really do pack a lot in for people of all ages. 

 

You learn a lot and it’s fun! 

 

You see the explorers' ships from both inside and outside

 

In fact, logistics permitting, this is a recommended stop for early in your Portugal tour itinerary.   Then, when you see things like the spare-no-expense decorative touches in Manueline architecture, you are more quickly reminded of how the explorers’ treasures translated into the world’s first empire-enriched treasury.

 

For information to help you plan your visit go to the World of Discoveries Museum website.

 

We made the mistake of thinking that this was strictly a missable childrens' museum. There is plenty here for all ages. You will though not only see schoolchildren but also birthday parties on the weekends

 

Tip from our tour guide—morning hours are the quietest times to visit the museum, before the boisterously happy children arrive.

 

Tip:  If you fly on TAP Airlines and take advantage of the 3-day layover program and/or free flights to Porto from Lisbon, you can get 25% discount on your tickets to this museum.   

Published on Jun 21, 2016

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