Museu da Farmacia

Opened in June 1996, the Museu da Farmacia (Pharmacy Museum) in Lisbon (Rua Marechal Saldanha, 1) is an ambitious project that aims to tell the Portuguese pharmaceutical history, from the late fifteenth century to the present day.


In 1981, Dr Salgueiro Basso donated his private pharmaceutical collection to the National Association of Pharmacies, which became the core collection of the museum.

In this museum, the history of pharmacy in Portugal is reconstructed using authentic historic pharmacies from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries which have been collected from around Portugal and further afield.

Besides the reconstruction of the pharmacies, the museum also comprises some 15,000 medical artefacts from classical Greece and Rome, Arabia, Central America, China and Japan

A more recent exhibit features the medicine kits that were on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour in December 2001.

More information in the Museum's official website.

The reconstructed pharmacies include:

Farmacia Barbos


Farmacia Pacheco Pereira


Farmacia Liberal


Farmacia Chinesa

This pharmacy originated from Macao in the late nineteenth century.


Água de Inglaterra

Agua de Inglaterra, Water of England or English water, was a popular remedy in Portugal during the 18th century. Its main therapeutic ingredient came from the bark of the cinchona tree, which is the source of quinine. The drug appeared in Portuguese Pharmacopeia from 1681 until 1821.

The drug was taken as a cure for malaria, which was a serious problem in 18th century Portugal. English Water was originally introduced from England in 1681 by Dr Fernando Mendes, hence the name. It was produced by infusing cinchona bark in alcohol. At one time this was one of the most widely used drugs in Portugal.

During the nineteenth century, it became possible to extract quinine directly from cinchona bark as a salt, and this led to a decline in the use of English Water. However, it is still available today in Brazil, where it is sold as Agua Inglesa.


Manuscript of the Canon medicinae by Ibn Sina (980 - 1037)

"Better known (in the west) as Avicenna entitled ‘Kitab al-qanun fi-tibb’ – the Canon of Medicine. It is the first true encyclopaedia of medicine. This volume is dedicated to the pharmacy, containing an extensive list of therapeutic substances, a treatise on poisons, and a long list of recipes and medicinal preparations.”

(The above was taken from the information board in the museum.)


A selection of other exhibits from the museum

  • Photos and main text by Malcolm Kinross (January 2020)

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