A visit to the National Tile Museum

Wed, 16.01.2019

Unveiling the History of the Portuguese Tile

On the 16th of January, our Portuguese language school took our students to the National Tile Museum.

Indira Leão, our history teacher guided us during the visit. The marvellous museum is located in the ancient Convent of Madre de Deus (Mother of God). The Queen D. Leonor (1458-1525) founded it in 1509.

The tiles were brought to Iberian Peninsula by the moors in the 13th century. It was a way of filling in all the white holes of a wall. Many people had this practise because they had a horror of emptiness. We saw good examples of tiles inspired by the Moorish style: which is symmetrical and geometrical. This kind of tiles were brought with D. Manuel I to Portugal in the beginning of the 16th century. The Portuguese king fell in love by the Moorish tiles in Seville.

The tile panel with the title O Retábulo da Nossa Senhora da Vida is a remarkable example of the 16th century. Incredible survived to the earthquake of 1755, that’s why it is so special. Most of the Portuguese tiles of the 16th century were lost in the disaster.

We visited the stunning church of the Convent, covered by golden tile and tiles. It was entirely recovered after the earthquake in a Baroque style.

Probably the most important panel of tiles is the Grande panorama de Lisboa which represents Lisbon before the earthquake of 1755. It has 22 metres long and was made in 1700 by Gabriel del Barco. It is one of the few urbanistic records of Lisbon before 1755.

Another example of the Portuguese tiles is the História do Chapeleiro António Joaquim Carneiro that represents the social ascension of a humble man.

Join us next time and take a look at our photos:


Learning more about a symbol of the Portuguese culture

Most of the people who visit Lisbon realize that the tiles are a dominant presence in the city. We can find them in many buildings in different colours and shapes. The themes of the tiles vary between the reports of historical episodes and religious iconography. Despite of being a decorative ornament, the tiles are able to keep the houses cooler during the summer. You’ll learn more about this important symbol of the Portuguese culture on the next tour on the 16th of January. We’ll do a guided visit to the National Tile Museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo).

Indira Leão, our history teacher, will take us to this visit. The Museu Nacional do Azulejo was the ancient Convent of Madre de Deus, founded in 1509 by the queen D. Leonor. Here, we’ll find the extraordinary tile panel which represents the coastal strip near the Tagus river before the earthquake of 1755. The tile panel is called Grande panorama de Lisboa and its author is Gabriel del Barco.

The technique of making tiles was developed and implemented by the moors in the Iberian Peninsula during the 13th century. At the turn of the 15th century to the 16th century the tile reached Portugal with D. Manuel I.

During the visit, Indira will speak in Portuguese and English. Therefore, you can’t miss this unique opportunity to learn more about the Portuguese culture, while improving your Portuguese skills.

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