Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Museu Nacional do Azulejo

We were in Lisbon and started our tour of monuments and museums. There were so may museums, and we had factored in only 3 days in Lisbon, that we had to choose only a few. On this trip, we were not too keen on museums displaying paintings and sculptures only. We decided on the Museu Nacional do Azulejo. They said it is Tiles museum. 
The National tiles museum, as it is also called, is situated in the eastern part of Lisbon. Located in the former Convent of Madre de Deus, it was founded in 1509, by Queen Leonar de Lencastre, wife of King Joao 11. St.Anthony's chapel, Upper choir, and the vestry are part of this structure as a whole.
An Azulejo is a decorative Ceramic glazed tile. Ceramic tiles from the 2nd. half of the 15th. century till date, are displayed. It is a unique museum, in the sense, exquisite hand painted ceramic tiles and murals of distinct designs and patterns are exhibited. 
There are 2 sections to this museum. one section consists of exhibits originally on these walls, flooring, staircases. Second section consists of tiles and murals collected from other buildings belonging to the Govt. or those in poor condition. The technicians working at the museum collect / remove the tiles with great care, assemble them in order, and store them in boxes. They are again mounted on suitable walls in the museum, precisely as they were in the original location; there by preserving the heritage and saving the craft for future generations. I found their work commendable.
The skirting along the staircase is a single scene, meaning each tile has a part of the scene.

On this mural, Tiles of same size, in the same color scheme, but with varying types of flowers and birds depicted on them.
The 16th. century cloister circles a square open courtyard. Beautiful columns and arch openings along the passage.
The walls are covered with tiles in geometric patterns. There are taps for water set in perfectly in the wall.
Geometric shaped tiles fit neatly to form interesting patterns.
The skirting along the staircase is adorned with the Azulejos in a continuous scene. the top of the mural takes the shape of the design instead of a straight line. Amazing work!!

Here is a window for the light, and the sides of the niche are also tiled.
  View from the upper choir of St. Anthony's Chapel.
 Gold encrusted chapel in Baroque style of architecture make you go 'WOW'.
 All the walls, ceiling, columns are covered with designs in Gold and paintings by Andre Goncalves.
These tiles are contributed by the Monastery of St. Monica, Goa. While speaking to a member of the museum staff, we told her that we are from Goa, India. She quickly took us to the section where the tiles from Goa are exhibited. Very thoughtful of her!
Could not resist this photo. There was standee made of Azulejo, with a cut out for the face. 
 A visit to this museum is worth making a trip all the way to Lisbon from Goa. I had never seen anything so exquisite in my life, and probably will not in the future. Must must see in Lisbon.

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