Museu Grão Vasco

Top choice in Viseu

Adjoining the cathedral, the granite Paço de Três Escalões (Palace of Three Steps) was originally built as the bishop’s palace. It's now a splendid museum showcasing an important collection of works by local-born Vasco Fernandes, aka Grão Vasco (the Great Vasco; c 1475–1543), one of Portugal’s seminal Renaissance artists.

There are two principal floors, one with religious art and 19th-century Portuguese works (check out the moustached lady by José de Almeida Furtado). The top floor displays Vasco's majestic canvases and works by other bright lights of the so-called Viseu School. Vasco’s colleague, collaborator and rival Gaspar Vaz merits special attention. They spurred each other on to produce some of Portugal’s finest artwork. After five centuries their rich colours and luminous style are still as striking as ever.