Inside the former Bishop’s palace next to the cathedral, the Museu de Grão Vasco displays religious paintings and artefacts, including some beautiful Oriental porcelain and textiles. Its main appeal, however, is the paintings by local boy Vasco Fernandes, better known as “The Great Vasco” (Grão Vasco) and widely acknowledged as one of Portugal’s best painters. His earliest work on display here is the fourteen panels tracing the Life of Christ (1501–06), which was commissioned for the altarpiece of Viseu cathedral – note the vivid Adoration of the Magi which topically presents Balthasar as a Brazilian-inspired Indian with feathered headdress (Brazil had been “discovered” by the Portuguese in 1500). His most famous work is St Peter on His Throne (1530–35) – the painting has been mounted freestanding so that you can see how the original frame and canvas were assembled.

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