Seven hills and so many neighborhoods and directions to explore. We were headed to the Gulbenkian Museum. We walked uphill (no surprise) this time on not so steep an incline. The road was wide with a center tree-lined walking area. It had the feel of Fifth, Madison and Park Avenues all rolled into one, filled with designer stores, upscale cafés and even a magnificent wall mosaic sculpture.We turned to a quieter street and found a walled park; this was the entrance to the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum and grounds. The Museum is spread across two buildings on a park campus with an amphitheater, ponds and brooks, and lots of quiet places to sit and reflect.
Both the permanent collection and the special exhibitions were filled with incredible works and examples of fine art from all around the globe.Who was this incredible collector and why and how did it end up in Lisbon? Calouste Gulbenkian was a petroleum engineer and a philanthropist. He was Armenian and lived in London, Paris, Istanbul (Constantinople to him), and Lisbon. He played a major role in making Middle East oil available to Western countries. He had become, by the end of his life, one of the world’s wealthiest men and he acquired one of the largest and greatest private art collections.
Gulbenkian was a philanthropist and established schools, hospitals and churches. His foundation continues to promote arts and science throughout the world. The foundation headquarters is in Lisbon and this is where his art collection is displayed.