The Aurea Museum Hotel is the unexpected keeper of 3000 years of Portuguese archaeological heritage.

From the outside, the five-star Aurea Museum looks like any other modern, European city hotel. Looks can be deceiving: its location on the north bank of the Tagus River has been desirable riverfront property since Phoenicians first made land here – the Romans also recognised its strategic importance, and their port city of Olisipo was a crucial gateway into the eastern Atlantic.

The Aurea is a unique project, where tourism helps to preserve Lisbon’s precious and ancient archaeology. It’s a symbiosis of museum and hotel – on the ground floor, you’ll see a 7th century BC Phoenician commemorative stela, the oldest known example in Portugal, and the preserved mosaics and frescos of a 2nd century Roman house: the former home of a high-status family whose wealth came from the maritime trade the Tagus provided. In the hotel’s dining room, you’ll share breakfast with the fortified wall which failed to protected 2nd century Roman city from the rampages of the Visigoths and Vandals – and the fountains, wells, ceramics and domestic pottery of the North Africans are all here on display.

Moving through time, and at the very western end of the building (where the Arco de Jesus leads you through into the beginnings of medieval Alfama), you’ll see the carved coat of arms of the Counts of Coculim, who built their palace here following the restoration of the Portuguese monarchy – the great earthquake of 1755 felled most of the building but thankfully this small corner still remains. Post-earthquake and coming full circle, the buildings returned to their maritime mercantile roots – a storage and trading house for the Sommer family who exported goods by sea from South America – until the 2018 restoration which created the Aurea Museum Hotel.

The hotel’s interior fully embraces modern 21st century Portuguese design and form, from the dark tones of the Emperador floor tiles and the walnut acoustic baffling, to the contemporary furniture and fixings. However, the flashes of the preserved ancient architecture are never far way, particularly in the Restaurante Atlantiko with its aforementioned Roman wall and the various artefacts on display. There are eight-one double rooms and ten suites across the four upper floors – they’re simply and light in décor with cosy and comfortable furnishings. Each room has a feature wall, with a antique map displaying the navigational routes taken by Portugal’s pioneering sailors during the country’s Age of Discoveries through the 165th and 16th centuries.

As a base from which to explore the whole of historic Lisbon, the hotel sits on the doorstep of medieval Alfama, whose winding alleyways lead up to the Castelo de Sao Jorge. It’s also a short walk along the river front to the Praca do Comercio with the popular districts of Chiado and Bairro Alto just beyond, and the beautiful Manueline architecture of Belem is a thirty-minute tram ride away.



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