The Museu Guarda Nacional Republicana (Republican National Guard Museum) may not be the most enticing name for a museum, but we stumbled across the building next to the Carmo Archaeological Museum in the Chiado district of Lisbon and were drawn to it by the guard on duty, dressed in a smart dark-blue uniform complete with horse hair plume on his helmet and holding a sword. As it was free* we decided to have a look inside and it turned out to be a little gem of a museum, particularly for anyone like me who is interested in the history of the 1974 Revolution. The small museum is located in the headquarters of the Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR), the military-run police force that polices all areas of the country except the major cities, which is housed in part of the Convento do Carmo. It opened in 2014 to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the ‘Carnation Revolution’, when, on 25th April 1974, the right-wing dictatorship was overthrown in a more or less bloodless coup led by a group of left-wing officers who opposed the regime. The display of artefacts from the Revolution, particularly the gun with a symbolic carnation in the barrel, was one of the most memorable sections of this museum. There were also several old GNR motorbikes dotted around, plus weapons, uniforms and other memorabilia from different periods of the GNR’s history since its inception in 1911. It is set out chronologically and well-curated with recreations of scenes from the past and real objects combined with life-size photos, as in the photo of two rural policemen with bicycles which acts as a backdrop to the exhibit of a real bicycle. As we left the museum we were treated to the spectacle of the changing of the guard: it was quite low-key, to the point that no one else seemed to notice it was happening!
Museu Guarda Nacional Republicana, Largo do Carmo, Lisbon
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10am-6pm.
*At the time of writing the entrance was free, but as of 2018 it is €2.