The most attractive riding arena I've ever seen is the Royal Riding Hall, located in Belem, just a few miles from Lisbon. The Royal Riding Hall was built in 1787. Its arena measures 50 m long x 17 m wide and is beautifully decorated with paintings and tile panels. A photo of its ceiling was featured as last weekends "One Clue Mystery". Congratulations to George G, the only one who recognized the site.
The Royal Riding Hall was part of the Royal Palace Complex (now the Presidential Palace). It was the former home of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art (Picadeiro Real) and was used for training horses and for horse riding exhibitions. The arena is surrounded by a balcony, from which the Portuguese royal family would watch events. The School of Equestrian Art was and remains one of the most prestigious riding academies in the world, using only Lusitano horses.
For more than a century the Royal Riding Hall was home to Portugal's National Coach Museum, created by Queen Amelia in 1905. The National Coach Museum recently moved into a nearby modern spacious facility (more on that in a future blog post). Portugal is home to one of the most amazing collection of coaches in the world, and the Royal Riding Hall is still part of the National Coach Museum, displaying a few of these coaches within the riding arena. Photos of some of these coaches on display are shown below, including highlights of their detailing.
(18th century ceremonial Berlin style coach)
(18th century Prince Francisco coach)
Besides coaches, the Royal Riding Hall also displays paintings, and riding associated memorabilia, like boots, saddles, blankets and horse decorations. Some of these items are shown below:
During our visit an interesting display of historic firefighting equipment was demonstrated.
The Royal Riding Hall is worth a quick visit. But if you want to see lots of historic coaches, spend your time at the National Coach Museum.