David Jenkins, Senior Editor – Museu Calouste Gulbenkian
The place I’ve really, really yearned for is the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian… It’s got sensational and exquisitely chosen pictures – Rembrandt, Rubens, Monet, Manet, Degas, Turner – to match those in any great gallery. It has mummies and pharaonic bas-reliefs. It has ravishing tiles and ethereal carpets. Greco-Roman marvels, a stunning collection of Lalique and an air of tranquil beauty. And just 400 yards from it is a stylish, haut-bourgeois restaurant called the Versailles, where the coffee is a dream and the natas beyond reproach. Natas? Yes, for the Caloste Gulbenkian is in Lisbon and on the Green List… PCR permitting, I’ll be off there in a jiffy. There is, too, an excellent modern art museum as part of the whole Gulbenkian Foundation, but I prefer the old stuff, all collected by the Armenian-born Calouste, a man who made his fortune by taking five per cent of all the oil companies he developed, Shell included. (His son Nubar had a thing for commissioning Rolls Royce Taxis, of which he said, ‘I’m told it can turn on a sixpence, whatever that is.’) At one point Calouste was going to give his collection to London, but Lisbon’s where it is now… vaut le detour, I’d say.