If you plan to visit the city of Tomar in Portugal, make sure not to bring any pyromaniacs with you. Located south of the old town in the former Convento de Sao Francisco is the Matchbox Museum (or the Aquiles da Mota Lima Museum of Matches). Believe it or not, this is Europe’s second largest collection of anything in the world. Some 60,000 items (with 43,000 matchboxes which still hold their original contents) from more than 100 countries are meticulously arranged in display cases over three large rooms. The collection, which was donated to Tomar in 1980, was started by phillumenist Aquiles Da Mota Lima. A sign outside the museum claims it provides “a singular description of universal history and culture”, which is probably true as eye-catching matchboxes have been replaced with easily disposable lighters. And you don’t need to be a smoker to appreciate this museum’s contents with its changing graphic designs of imagery and fonts.
Not only is this museum a “striking” place (sorry, bad pun), but it’s also absolutely FREE!