The locality of Caramulo was born in 1921, on the southern side of the Serra of the same name, the result of the initiative of a doctor, Jerónimo de Lacerda who, out of nowhere, created the largest sanatorium resort in the country and the Iberian Peninsula. Magnificent urban work with unique infrastructures in Portugal, on that date. In 1938 it already has piped water at home, an exemplary network of urban sewers and the respective treatment station, waste collection system with crematorium, electricity produced from its own hydroelectric power station, as well as unusual urban planning, with wide roads with sidewalks, green spaces and public gardens of incomparable beauty and in a proportion never seen before.
It is in this scenario that, in 1921 and 1923, two children of Dr. Jerónimo de Lacerda are born, Abel and João. Aware that the progress of medicine would dictate the end of Caramulo as a treatment center, Abel, who had embarked on an economist career, and his brother João, a doctor, started looking for ideas that would ensure the survival of his land and the continuation of the inherited work. They decide to plan the transformation of existing structures in high-altitude tourism and remove the name of disease from Caramulo, converting the mountain scenery into a pole of cultural and artistic attraction.
It is with this idea in mind that Abel and João de Lacerda founded, in the 50s, an unusual museum, located on a mountain in the center of Portugal, with lush vegetation, facing south, over an extensive valley of 80 km: the widest panorama from the country.
Abel de Lacerda, passionate about art, builds a building, with the most modern concepts of museology, to exhibit an unusual collection of art objects consisting of 500 pieces of painting, sculpture, furniture, ceramics and tapestries, ranging from ancient Egypt to Picasso.
João de Lacerda, passionate about automobiles, builds another building attached to the first, designed to exhibit 100 automobiles and motorcycles, under the principle that all vehicles could be easily left for exhibition and conservation.
With the premature death of Abel de Lacerda in 1957, Abel de Lacerda Foundation was created – now the Abel Foundation and João de Lacerda – owner of the Museu do Caramulo. Open to the public all year, the Museu do Caramulo has received over one and a half million visitors since its creation.
The building planned by Abel Lacerda, to house the precious donated antiques, was inaugurated by the President of the Republic in 1959, having been one of the first museums designed and made in Portugal, with all the modern requirements of museology.