Sunday, 16 February 2014

L'Iber, The Toy Soldier Museum, Valencia and the Military Museum Lisbon, Portugal

I've just come back from winter cruise to the western Mediterranean. We have a busy year ahead so we thought we'd get a break in early, perhaps not t his early but the deal was a good one. Anyway on my travels I'm always looking out for interesting historical or military things to see and this holiday turned up trumps.
The first discovery was the Military Museum in Lisbon literally just to the right of where we docked.
Military Museum, Lisbon slightly hidden by all the cars.
Unfortunately you couldn't take pictures inside but they had a nice hardback book in English to buy. The building is beautiful itself built in the baroque style with loads of murals extolling Portuguese military history inside and tiling in the courtyard.
The WW1 section was stunning. I learnt that the helmets used on the western front were British supplied as was most of the kit. I've only ever seen photos of Portuguese troops in hats or helmets resembling the British steel helmet but with juice squeezer style grooves on the dome, here all the troops portrayed in steel helmets wore the traditional British one. There was a mannequin of a soldier in winter uniform wearing furry chaps on his legs and arms with a furry waist coat, what a wargames figure that would make.
The 2 room dedicated to WW1 were surrounded with epic murals of the western front and war at sea. There was also a stunning bronze of an artillery limber heroically struggling through the mud. There was not much on Africa.
I also found the, in wargaming terms, Colonial section interesting depicting a column putting down a rebellion in Mozambique 1895/97.
The museum took you through Portuguese military history from medieval times to current, although the current gallery was closed when I was their. The museum also held collections of miniature artillery pieces from around the world from early times to present, plus a range of hats and helmets from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
An added bonus while walking through the arsenal floor past loads of artillery pieces the local fencing club was in full swing. Very atmospheric.
I loved it and I would recommend a visit. The ladies of my party also enjoyed themselves marvelling at the art as well as the history on display.
The second discovery was in Valencia. I'd seen this museum on the web prior to going, and blurb said it was the largest toy soldier museum in the world taking you through Spain's history as portrayed by tin soldiers. I wrongly assumed these would be flats.
The L'Iber Museum does take you through Spanish history and part of the world's and holds collections of toy figures not just military but comic books, film and sport. The figures range from antique to modern and are in the majority around 54mm high but the range is from 5mm to 200mm. I couldn't get a guide book in English which was a shame but I took hundreds of photos which I'll split in to historical/themed sections and post.

Another great old building for a museum
I could have spent much more time here. We were in for 2 hours and the ladies were good to go. I could have spent another hour really taking it in. Funnily enough  like the Lisbon museum the WW2 onwards section wasn't open.
If you love toy soldiers you've got to go!

No comments:

Post a Comment