When I wander through Lisbon, I always love to admire the houses with those typical Portuguese tiles: azulejos. So it was only a matter of time before I would visit the Museu Nacional do Azulejo. On a sweltering August day it finally happened. Together with my husband and the kids we visited the whole museum in about an hour and a half.
Located in a monastery
The museum is one of the most important museums in Portugal because of the unique collection devoted entirely to this Portuguese cultural heritage: azulejos.
A special bonus is the location of the museum – definitely worth a visit even if you are not necessarily fascinated by azulejos like I am. This is the beautiful monastery in which the museum is located: Convento Madre de Deus.
In 1509, the wife of King Don João II ordered the monastery to be built. Over the centuries, the monastery was expanded and embellished with a church, vestry, high choir and capela de Santo António. All these spaces are included in the museum.
The tile and its story
After a visit to the museum you will see Lisbon through different eyes and suddenly you will notice how many azulejos there are in the city. An azulejo is like a work of art, it tells a story.
The azulejos in the museum follow the historical, technical and artistic developments of the azulejos in Portugal.
With each important historical period you will be guided through the museum. That way the development of changes and influences from the outside can be clearly seen. As the owner of Solar Antiques told me before, from the 17th century on even Dutch influences are visible in the designs of the azulejos.
Highlight of the museum
The panorama of Lisbon is often considered the highlight of the museum. This is really very impressive, but actually that goes for the whole museum.
The cladding of the capela de Santo António is beautiful with all the gold and paintings, but equally beautiful are the panels Lição de Dança and Painel de Nossa Senhora da Vida.
As far as I’m concerned, there are no individual highlights, but the whole museum is a great highlight.
On the top floor is a 23 meters long panorama of Lisbon (it covers the whole wall).
consisting of 1300 tiles.
It paints a fascinating and dramatic picture of what Lisbon looked like in 1738, before the great earthquake devastated the city.
We had a good time with our toddlers in the museum. There are many stairs in the museum that are fun and adventurous for children.
There are also a number of activities in the museum for children so that they can enjoy themselves and parents can admire the azulejos.
Pitstop at the end
The museum has a very nice courtyard garden with lots of greenery and shielding against the sun. That makes the garden very cool. There are highchairs you can use. There is a pond at the back of the garden with turtles and fishes. This was definitely a highlight for our daughters during the museum visit.
The restaurant has an affordable menu and inside it is decorated in complete harmony with the museum.
How to get to Museu Nacional do Azulejo
Address: Rua Madre de Deus 4, Marvila
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am – 6 pm | Closed on Mondays