The beautifully designed Museu do Oriente highlights Portugal’s ties with Asia, from colonial baby steps in Macau to ancestor worship. The cavernous museum occupies a revamped 1940s bacalhau (dried salt-cod) warehouse – a €30-million conversion. Strikingly displayed in pitch-black rooms, the permanent collection focuses on the Portuguese presence in Asia, and Asian gods.
Standouts on the 1st floor feature rare Chinese screens and Ming porcelain, plus East Timorese items such as the divining conch and delicately carved umbilical-cord knives. Upstairs, various themes are traded out every two to three years. When we came through it was dedicated to Chinese opera.