Avenida Berna 45-A, 1067-001 Lisbon, Portugal
351 21 782 3000
When Calouste Gulbenkian died in 1955, the Armenian-born business tycoon was the richest man in the world, thanks to the agreements he made advising oil-rich countries around the world. He fled to Lisbon during World War II and launched his foundation and museum here. Alongside institutions like the Getty and the Frick, the Gulbenkian collection is considered one of the top five private art collections. The treasures that he amassed range from the finest Egyptian antiquities, Chinese porcelain and Persian carpets to spectacular examples of Renaissance art and Louis XIV furniture. Gulbenkian’s motto was “only the best” and the blue-chip names represented (including Rubens, Rembrandt, Rodin and Renoir) reflect that. In fact, Gulbenkian was the only person allowed to "shop" the Hermitage when the Soviets sold some of its works of art; he came and selected 60 pieces, all of which are on view here. The compound includes an incredible network of buildings and gardens including a concert hall with one of the largest glass windows in the world, so concert-goers can face the orchestra and the garden beyond them. Be sure to browse the gift shop in the Foundation and pick up a copy of the biography of Gulbenkian Mr. Five Percent.
Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley