Portimao Museum

Portimao Museum showing signage

Portimao Museum

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Learn about Portimão’s history, heritage and connection to the sea at this modern museum occupying a former sardine and mackerel canning factory.

The interactive, state-of-the-art exhibits at the Portimão Museum reveal different aspects of the city’s history. See vintage equipment from the town’s old sardine and mackerel canning factory, learn about marine exploration and view archaeological artifacts that have been hauled up from the depths of the Arade River.

Set inside what was once a fish canning factory, the museum’s exhibits cover an area of around 10,765 square feet (1,000 square meters). In 2010, the museum was the recipient of the Council of European Museum Prize in recognition of its innovative exhibits. Make your way around the three distinct sections, which focus on different topics relating to local history.

Start at the Origin and Destiny of a Community exhibit, which focuses on the human history of the region. Exhibits focus on the communities and people who have inhabited the area, from prehistoric times up to the 20th century.

The Industrial Life and the Challenge of the Sea exhibit chronicles the town’s deep-rooted ties to the sea and the river. Learn about the various steps involved in canning, which was once the main economic activity in the region, and listen to accounts of what life was like for workers. Watch a video about the activities of the canning factory and inspect equipment used for washing, beheading, brining and canning.

The third permanent exhibit is titled From Under of the Waters and is devoted to the world beneath the waves. Venture downstairs to the site where the factory’s old underground cistern was to find out more about the flora and fauna that inhabit the nearby coast and river. Exhibits here include a glimpse an artificial reef in the region that sprung up around four sunken Portuguese warships.

Find the Portimão Museum on the riverfront. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. Opening times vary by season so check ahead before you visit. Adults must pay an entrance fee, but children under the age of 15 enter free.

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