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Our Romanian news correspondent, Ioana Bota, has shared with us another text about her visit at Museu Nacional do Azulejo. After reading this you will want to go there. 🙂


For those of you who do not know what azulejo means it is a form of Portuguese and Spanish painted tin-glazed ceramic tile work, which comes from the Arabic language. Along the years, it has become quite popular in the Peninsula, especially in the South.

People use it to decorate their houses and the usage has become such widespread that, nowadays, it is difficult to find an old house that does not have the tiles carved somewhere along its walls.

I must admit it took me quite a long time to actually gather the courage to visit the Museu Nacional do Azulejo as I am not particularly a fan of this type of art and tiles, and I was not sure I would find this place interesting enough.

Imagem: Ioana Bota, Fora da Rota

Imagem: Ioana Bota, Fora da Rota

Situated outside the center of Lisbon, fairly close to the Santa Apolonia train station, this museum looks incredibly shabby from the outside, making you wonder what kind of beauty can these walls hold? Once you enter the place, a whole modern side of the museum reveals itself and again you ask yourself if you are in the right place.

Your first steps take you to the very first galleries where you start your journey among the beauty of making this art into reality. All the shapes, all the moldings and all the colors help you understand that this is not an ordinary art, but something special. Slowly it dawns on you that for centuries people have mastered this craft and succeeded in making something last.

You wonder how they had the patience to create such beautifully decorated tiles, the skills and the imagination to spend hours, days, weeks and even years at a time on a wall size work of art?

But as you walk through this amazingly organised museum, you notice that the craft has not stopped in the VIII-th century and that it continues even today.

Imagem: Ioana Bota, Fora da Rota

Imagem: Ioana Bota, Fora da Rota

You become more fascinated at seeing the modern type of azulejo, checking out their detailed structures and their amazingly organised colors. It is impossible not to feel a pinch of appreciation towards this art.

One may see a lot of museums in Lisbon, but truth be told, Museu Nacional do Azulejo is among the museums worth visiting when you are in Lisbon – even just to take a glimpse of why azulejo is not blue.

Text by Ioana Bota

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