The National Tile Museum stand out amongst other national museums by two things: The singularity of its collection, Azulejo (tile), an artistic style that differentiates Portuguese culture; and by the matchless architectural design of the building in which the Museum is located, former Madre de Deus Convent, founded in 1509 by Queen D. Leonor (which, after renovation following the Great Earthquake, had its interior turned into one of the city’s most magnificent).
Despite its somewhat out-of-the-way location, this delightful museum is well worth a visit, presenting five centuries of decorative ceramic tiles, or azulejos, tracing the history and production of the art form.
The ceramic tiles with vividly diverse colours is an exceptional element of the Portuguese architecture that allures the visitors. You might find these Portuguese azulejos, adorned on buildings during a walk about town (especially in Alfama), in gift shops (or at the Feira da Ladra), or within the walls of other top destinations of the city, including some of the palaces or villas that lie across Sintra.
The ceramic tiles with vividly diverse colours is an exceptional element of the Portuguese architecture that allures the visitors.
The collection that you can see in the museum is the only of its kind in the world, and contains a splendid array of tiles from as early as the 15th century. Some are simple, with individual tiles decorated with plants or marine elements, while others are pieced together to create grand murals as visual chronicles depicting people or narrating stories steeped with history. There are not only mere visuals but also informative panels thoroughly detailing how azulejos are made. The museum allows a journey through the history of tile, from 15th century till present days.
Belonging to the convent, the Madre de Deus church is decorated in full Portuguese baroque splendour, with gilded and carved wood, paintings and tile panels. It further intensifies the experience. Not surprisingly, recent visitors enjoyed both the museum’s expansive collection as well as the building it’s housed in – a former convent. In that matter, some visitors said that the climax of their experience was the chapel, ornamented with not only plenty of azulejos but centuries-old oil paintings.
The museum, with its gift shop and cafe in the complex, is open Tuesday through Sunday between 10AM. – 6PM. The tickets are reasonably cheap as they cost 5 euros for adults. The fee includes an audio guide that is provided on admission if you need.
The museum, with its gift shop and cafe in the complex, is open Tuesday through Sunday between 10AM. – 6PM.
The National Tile Museum is located about a mile and a half northeast of Alfama. Getting off the Santa Apolónia metro stop and walking a little less than a mile towards the northeast is a convenient way to reach the museum. Several buses, including route Nos. 718, 742 and 794 passes by the place as well. For more information, visit the museum’s website: http://www.museudoazulejo.gov.pt/en-GB/default.aspx