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Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum)

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Turtles, tiles and art

Published by Amadea Kovič — one year ago

Turtles, tiles and art

While in Lisbon, you should definitely visit one of its most beautiful museums: Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum). It is located close to the Tagus river in an ex-monastery, next to a beautiful chapel, full of beautifully painted traditional white and blue tiles.

So what is azulejo anyways?

A touch of art history

Azulejo is the type of art that is very traditional and important for the Portuguese people, but the word itself does not actually come from Portuguese, even though one might think so. The Portuguese word for blue is »azul« which would fit this type of art perfectly, but originally the word comes from the Arabic language, from the word al-zulaich, which means »polished stone«. It was first used to describe the Roman floor mosaics, but through the centuries of its existence different cultures have left its influence in it. You can also download the museum application for free which will guide you through the rooms with detailed explanations for each specific work.

On the first floor, you can see the examples of first azulejos and get to know different techniques. The museum is quite big and the topic is explained in depth, so it will take you some time. Don't forget to see the beautiful chapel and then head up towards more newer works of art.

Turtles, tiles and art

The last century

The collection of azulejos from 20th-century artists is one of my favourite parts of the museum because they created very original pieces. The previous century brought new innovations and more freedom in the creative process. Here you can see a very different way how they expressed themselves. Especially interesting are the azulejos at the end – they might seem familiar to you, since they were taken from the same pattern, covering the walls of the Restauradores and Rossio metro stations.

You should finish your visit with a huge Lisbon Panorama that is presenting the city as it was before the great earthquake in 1755. Try to find The Commerce Square or the Jeronimus Monastery!

Turtles, tiles and art

Flora and fauna

After you've seen all the art, stop at the museum's cafeteria. They have amazing cheesecake and very good meia de leite by really affordable prices. Take your cake and coffee in the garden, which is another one of my most beloved places in Lisbon. There are some beautiful sculptures there and a pond with colourful fish and a big tortoise family. Enjoy in this beautiful experience for all of your senses!

Turtles, tiles and art

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