The Gulbenkian Foundation was suggested as a must-see by friends, so it was one of our first stops. I was familiar with the history of Sr. Gulbenkian - known as "Mr. Five Percent" for his persistent deal-brokering in the petroleum industry about a century ago. His ability to amass an oil fortune, largely by simply being in the room, dwarfs the similar work of J. Paul Getty during the same period.
What I wasn't prepared for was how prodigious he was as an art collector! The Founder's collection is an astounding assemblage of notable art, from pre-christ middle eastern artifacts through 19th and 20th century European works. Truly one of the best collections in the Western world.
So too the grounds and buildings of the Museum. Lisbon offered up a botanical garden as a site for the collection (it helped that Gulbenkian was living in Lisbon at the time) and it is a stunning setting for the buildings and the collection. Do not miss it.
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