The Museu Militar do Porto (Porto Military Museum) is operated by the Portuguese military and holds collections and exhibits from the 16th to 20th centuries. The exhibits range from 16,000 miniature toy soldiers to decommissioned artillery pieces, that seek to portray military history from around the world, including both world wars.
Part of the museum is housed in a building that was once the headquarters of the PIDE (Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado), the secret police organisation that existed during the authoritarian rule of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, between 1926 and 1974. A newer pavilion building in the rear holds the larger pieces, primarily from the two world wars.
A single employee operates the admission desk and also directs visitors to the various rooms that hold exhibits. After paying the 3 Euro admission fee, visitors are first directed to the second floor of the main building. That floor houses the extensive collection of toy soldiers, as well as some military-themed oil paintings. But the feature exhibit on that floor is a sword that is believed to have been owned by D. Alfonso Henriques – King Alfonso I – who established independence for Portugal in 1139 and reigned until 1185.
The collection of toy soldiers and miniature military models is displayed in glass cases, through several rooms on the second floor. Each group is identified with a number that can then be referenced against a sign in the display case (in Portuguese) that identifies the country that the models depict.
On the lower level of the main building are two display rooms. One holds exhibits from the Napoleonic area and the other from the period of the first Portuguese rebellion.
The visit then continues, out of the main building and into an open area behind it, where several pieces of artillery are displayed.
The ground level of the pavilion is split into two halves, with one half housing exhibits from World War 1 and the other half from World War 2.
On the upper landing, inside the pavilion, there are additional exhibits that include medieval suits of armour, chain mail and weaponry.
Signage throughout the museum is in Portuguese but there are some hand-held laminated sheets available in each area that provide information in other languages.
The museum is open six days per week (closed on Mondays). Opening hours are: Tuesday – Friday 10am to 12.30pm and 2.00pm to 5.00pm; Saturdays 2.00pm to 5.00pm; Sundays and public holidays 10am to 12.30pm and 2.00pm to 5.0pm. Closed on Mondays. Admission is 3 Euros for adults.Children under 12 years of age enter for free.
The museum is easy to reach via the Metro. Exit the Metro at the Heroismo Station and walk west about 2 minutes.