Museo do Azulejo: The colours of Lisbon



Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 21/06/2024, 17:45

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

When you come to Lisbon, or Portugal in general, you are sure to notice how colorful it is here. What will definitely catch your eye are houses clad in colorful tiles. These are called azulejos, and you can learn about their history at the Museo de Azulejos in Lisbon.

Azulejos tiles are on almost every house in Portugal. The Portuguese are proud of them.
Personally, I would rather not have them in my home, but I like buildings clad with them very much. I often examine them closely, because the scenes shown on them can tell an interesting story.

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I visited the Azulejos Museum in Lisbon relatively late, because it was only after I had lived in the capital for 4 years. I know now that it is my favorite museum out of all the museums in Lisbon. I’ve visited and I will definitely return here, if only for the café and restaurant.

I recommend this place to people who like Portuguese tiles very much, but also to those who are curious about the country’s history and culture. After all, there is no Portugal without azulejos tiles.

What are azulejos?

Azulejos are small ceramic tiles, decorated with colorful patterns. They are characteristic of Portugal, where they appeared in the 13th century, after the invasion of the Moors.

The word azulejo has its roots in Arabic and means ‘small, polished stone’.

King Manual I officially adopted the use of azulejos on building walls. He brought the idea back from a trip to Seville. From then on, the tiles began to take on different colors and patterns.

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    Portuguese tiles became very popular here in the 16th century, and began to appear en masse after the great earthquake of 1755.

    Today azulejos are practically everywhere. They decorate houses, churches and offices with them. Sometimes you can see them as street markers.
    They are certainly an integral part of Portuguese culture.

    The visit at the tile museum in Lisbon

    Lisbon’s azulejos tile museum was founded in the 1960s and was recognized as a national museum in ’88. It is located in the former convent of Madre Deus.

    an old building at the azulejo museum, lisbon.
    The building is very old and thanks to it, the surroundings are very atmospheric.

    The whole complex consists of 3 floors. The exhibits show how azulejos tiles have changed from the 16th century to the present day.

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    Tile exhibit in azulejo museum, lisbon.
    The exhibits here show all kinds of tiles.

    The choir and the richly decorated Queen Leonora Chapel are also part of the tour.

    A golden chapel in the tile museum, lisbon.
    This is the most spectacular part of the museum.

    At the very end, the restaurant and garden, located behind the building, are worth a look.

    A restaurant in the tile museum, lisbon.
    The restaurant here is very popular due to its decor.

    I toured the azulejos tile museum on my own, without a guide. You can buy headphones with a recording at the reception, which is a good option.

    You can also hire a guide. Check out GetYourGuide’s offer. Their independent, local guides will be happy to show you around the museum and show you the most interesting corners.

    The tour should not take you that long. The museum is not huge. I think just seeing the exhibitions is about 1-2 hours.

    Admission to the museum for an adult is 5 euros.
    It is possible to purchase a combined ticket, such as the Azulejos Museum, the Pantheon and the Museum of Ancient Arts is 15 Euro.

    The museum is a bit further from the focal point, Praça do Commercio and the centre of Lisbon. You can get here by car. Parking in front of the museum is free.

    Buses 742 and 794 get here, or you can walk from Santa Apolonia station, for example.

    Adress: R. Me. Deus 4, 1900-312 Lisboa

    Don’t forget that I have an ebook guide that will help you to organise your first trip to Lisbon.