Also referred to as the Museu Municipal, this outstanding and award-winning cultural showpiece benefits from its integration within the former 16th-century convent ofNossa Senhora da Assunção; the beautiful Renaissance cloister alone is worth discovering. Arranged chronologically, the permanent collection spans prehistory and the Roman, Moorish, and medieval periods, plus the 18th and 19th centuries. Roman artifacts unearthed at nearby Milreu are given suitable prominence, but as you silently browse each gallery, look out for the delicately crafted Arab oil lamps, some of which resemble Popeye’s pipe.
The finely carved Manueline statuary will resound with admirers of 16th-century sculpture, but the “must-see” exhibit is the enormous Roman floor mosaic featuring a fierce looking Neptune that dates from around the 3rd century AD. This is a very pro-active facility, and museum staff are happy to explain a piece in more detail if asked. You might also have to share the floor with throngs of visiting school children, as this is a popular field study venue.