It’s an unique form of art, you will not find it in many places beside Portugal, its origins go back to the 13the century and really good quality pieces can cost a fortune.
We are talking about Portuguese tiles and their main home is the National Tile Museum, or Museu Nacional do Azulejo, in Lisbon.
This delightful museum is located in the oriental area of the city, in Xabregas, and it occupies the building of an ancient covent, Convento da Madre de Deus.
It hosts a permanent collection of superb tiles, from different eras and several locations.
However, some of the museum’s most important work is not visible by the public eye since the Museu Nacional do Azulejo performs the vital task of restoring and preserving many ancient tiles, some of them true works of art and virtually irreplaceable.
By the way, while walking around Lisbon, you might be tempted by some stores or even street sellers selling tiles.
If you happen to notice that the tiles were removed from a wall and that still have cement attached to them, on their back, don’t by them. They are most likely stolen tiles, ripped off some wall, and this is a real menace to tiles spreaded all over the city.
There used to be hundreds of buildings in Lisbon with beautiful tiles that simply disappeared and they are not being replaced because they are either too rare or too expensive.
Back to the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, besides hosting an impressive tile collection and being responsible for restoring and preserving important tiles, the museum also teaches how to decorate tiles, namely by promoting workshops where one can lear how to paint on tile.
A Lisbon must visit museum.
> Rua da Madre de Deus, nº 4
> Opens from Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00-18:00 (last admission 17:30)
> Regular price: 5€. See detailed price list.
> Metro: Santa Apolónia
> Insider tip: if you are visiting this museum consider buying a combined ticket that for a small extra gives you access to other not to be missed monuments, such as the National Pantheon, not that far from Museu Nacional do Azulejo.