Museu do Azulejo
One of the main features of Lisbon are the colourful azulejos or glazed ceramic tiles that adorn the exterior of many buildings. Get up close to see the beautiful patterns that make up the entire façade or to see a piece of artwork imbedded in the structure. Some of these are incredibly old with intricate designs showing true craftsmanship.
If you would like to see more art tiles, I suggest you spend a couple of hours at this unique museum, the Museu do Azulejo. No need for a tour, just purchase a ticket and wander around at your leisure.
Housed in a magnificent building dating back to the 1500’s, the museum showcases tiles from the 15th century to the present.
The museum includes an incredible church with a mix of an ornate gold altar and ceiling, stone floor, and blue tiles together with the beautifully crafted wooden pews. Wander through this church, but also go upstairs and look down from above.
An open window near the altar revealed just enough light to capture this amazing photograph.
There is a small cloister from the 16th century. Walk right around this structure to get different angles. Look up, line up the columns, focus on the lamps, tiles, natural light and shadows. Great photo opportunities here.
One of the most impressive exhibits is a 36-metre-long composition of 1,300 tiles illustrating Lisbon before the 1755 earthquake. A closer look reveals the Sao Vicente de Fora church and monastery with its central dome that was destroyed.
One of my favourites was “The Chicken Wedding” from 1665. I was so taken by the wedding chariot and the monkeys that I actually forgot to photograph the entire piece. The two photos below only show the left half of it. Another point to note is to be aware of glare when photographing tiles.
There are tiles, both old and modern, depicting stories from past times (religious and lifestyle, flowers, animals and hunting). This place has something for everyone if you love tiles and art.
Of course the famous blue tiles are well represented not only as exhibits but are used to adorn the walls of the buildings.
One good tip for photographing the tiles is to take a photo of the full picture, then zoom in on just one part as seen in the following two images. Yes I know I forgot to do that with the “Chicken Wedding”!
Look for other small artefacts as you walk around the museum.
Even when you end up in the café at the end of your visit to this museum, there are many interesting and appropriate tiles there as well. Enjoy and happy snapping.
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