January 26, 2010

Museo Nacional do Azulejo

National Tile Museum interior.


Portugal’s Museo Nacional do Azulejo, or National Tile Museum, is in Lisbon. One legacy of Portugal’s Moorish past is its tiles. Not only decorative, they also keep dwellings warm and dry, so have maintained their relevance in what is still a very old-style city.

The National Tile Museum is housed in an old convent, so is worth visiting for the building as well as the tile exhibits. The breadth of the tile exhibit is stunning, covering every period of tile making and every style of tile, from traditional to modern.


Portuguese damsel in the National Tile Museum.


The tile murals are particularly memorable, not only for their size and scope, but also for the characteristically naïve but still otherworldly portrayals of the human figure that Portuguese tiles exhibit. One room is dedicated to a massively long panorama of Lisbon in tiles. Whole stairways and rooms are covered in tiled creations. There are also historical artistic objets that are unconnected to tiles, but offer a fascinating diversion.

War scene on tile in the National Tile Museum, Lisbon.

Another highlight of the National Tile Museum is its sumptuous rococo chapel – not notable for tiles, but a feast for the eyes all the same.


The Museo Nacional do Azulejo is in Rua Madre de Deus 4, Lisbon, Portugal.
Tel: 218 100 340

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