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

January 19, 2010

Roasted chestnut cart in Lisbon

Chestnut cart, Lisbon.

The streets of Lisbon are alive with commerce, much of it tourist-oriented. This man is one of the many hawking roasted chestnuts.

At two Euros per bag, they can't be called cheap (very little in Portugal can, in fact). However, once you have cracked open one of the pleasantly warm nuts and put it in your mouth, any misgivings you had take leave.

Roasted chestnut, Lisbon.

The savory, almost smoky, flavor of roasted chestnuts is delightful, inspiring a multitude of memories, and with a friendly smile from the hawker, you are on your way with your bulging paper bag.

January 9, 2010

Lisbon Castle Cannon II

Yet more cannon from Lisbon, this time at Lisbon Castle.

Lisbon Castle Cannon

The Castelo de São Jorge dates from medieval times but its guns have rarely been fired in anger. The former Moorish fort on Lisbon's highest hill was taken by Crusaders in the 12th century thanks to the legendary bravery of Martim Moniz, but since that time the castle has rarely been beseiged. Only twice in the 14th century did the castle come under attack by an invading army - the Castilians attempted to take the city in 1373 and again in 1383-4.

January 4, 2010

Roman Bath At Evora

Roman remains in Evora include not only the impressive Templo Romano but also the circular Roman bath with the City Hall building.

Roman Bath At Evora

The bath is probably the remains of a much larger bath complex and was discovered during renovations to the Town Hall in 1987.

Archeologists believe the bath is a Laconicum - or hot bath.

Buy Azulejos Ceramic Tiles From Portugal

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January 3, 2010

Cathedral of Évora

The Cathedral of Evora is one of the UNESCO World Heritage city's main attractions.

Cathedral of Évora

Building began in the early 13th century after the reconquest of the city from the Moors.

Additions and improvements continued over the centuries including the superbly ornate 18th century chapel by German architect João Frederico Ludovice, who was also responsible for the Monastery at Mafra.

Cathedral of Évora

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January 1, 2010