This site uses cookies. By browsing the site you are consenting to its use. Read more about our privacy policy and use of cookies ACCEPT

The history of Tile in Portugal

This is a visit to the magnificent National Tile Museum where the exhibition of the history of Tile in Portugal as well as its influences, from the 15th century to the present. We also have visited the Casa dos Bicos a testimony to Roman archaeological remains.

The National Tile Museum is located in Lisbon in the former Convent of Madre de Deus. The building considered a national monument was founded in 1509 by the Queen D. Leonor adding to the visit the architectuarl and historical value of this space, such as the 15th century mannerist cloister, the Church and a set of paintings and tile coverings. The building was born as the National Tile Museum since 1965.

Map National Tile Museum PortugalMuseums locations

We started our visit on the Zero floor by a set of rooms where some techniques for making tiles are presented following the route of the visit in a chronological order of the tile history.

Entrance National Tile Museum Portugal LisbonNational Museum Tile entrance
The mythological Athena tile panel National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalThe mythological Athena tile panel in the cloister on the ground floor

During the 15th century in the Iberian Peninsula in the kingdom of Spain Seville, Valencia, Malaga and Toledo were the main centers for the production of tiles. The Hispanic-Moorish of Moorish influence with radial geometric patterns are then revealed. Cuerda Seca and Arista production techniques are used.

In Portugal at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century, King D. Manuel I ordered tiles from Seville for the Palace of the Village of Sintra and from then on, tiles from Seville are used in Portugal.

Hispano-Moorish tiles National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalGeneral view of the Techniques Room with the exhibition of Hispano-Moorish tiles Cuerda Seca  Arista  National Tile Museum Exhibition of tile manufacturing techniques such as Cuerda Seca and Arista from the 15th and 16th centuries
Hispanic-Moorish tile panel National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalHispanic-Moorish tile panel  Hispanic-Moorish tile National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalRadial pattern Hispanic-Moorish influence tile

 tiles Islamic motives National Tile Museum Portugal LisbonSet of tiles with Islamic motives

In the first half of the 16th century, Portugal joined the production of tiles using the revolutionary majolica technique that consisted of the motive of the paintings over the smooth ceramic surface without the colours mixing. The motives of the paintings will then have renaissance influences.

In the second half of the 16ht century with the arrival of potters from Flanders as Spanish province at time, there was a solidification and growth of the activity of ceramic centers in Portugal using the majolica techniques.

Techniques majólica National Tile MuseumExhibition of tiles from the 16th century using majolica techniques. Noteworthy are some samples produced in Antwerp where Italian ceramists moved during this period transforming Antwerp into one of the most important majolica centers

The altarpiece of our Lady  Fatima National Tile MuseumReligious themed panel from 1580, The altarpiece of our Lady of Fátima by the master Marçal de Matos

In the first half of the 17th century there was an increase in the national production of tiles being Lisbon the largest ceramic center. Panels with registers tiles are produced, for example saints for divine protection and the pattern on the lining of buildings. The most frequent colors are blue and yellow.

Pattern Room National Tile Museum General view of the Pattern Room Camellia pattern National Tile Museum Lisbon Portugal“Camellia” pattern

Asian influence National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalTiled panel with moral emblems of Asian influence

lining of architectures National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalPattern tiles for interior lining of architectures Tiles in diamond tip pattern National Tile Museum Portugal LisbonTiles in diamond tip pattern

Religious panel “Frontais de Altar National Tile Museum Portugal LisbonReligious panel “Frontais de Altar

Claustrim National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalIn the Claustrim of the old Convent of Madre de Deus. Behind the tiles in chess pattern Fountain Saint Auta  National Tile Museum At Claustrim of the Saint Auta fountain

Church of Madre de Deus National Tile Museum Portugal LisbonStill in the Zero floor the interior of the Church of Madre de Deus

The tile exhibition has continued on floor One since the second half of the 17th century with an emphasis on profane and religious themes until the 20th century culminating on floor Two with the Great Panorama of Lisbon before the 1755 earhquake.

Staircase National Tile Museum Portugal LisbonView of the stairs leading to the floor One Hunting Room National Tile Museum Portugal LisbonGeneral view of the Hunting Room
Hunting among animals Nationla Tile Museum Portugal Lisbon. Tile representing scenes of hunting among animals. After the period of the Restoration of the independence (1640), the noblility began to order hunting panels Staircase of São Bento National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalStaircase of São Bento with tile panel decorated with grotesque in the form of lozango
Dutch panels and painters National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalView of the Santos Simões Room. Dutch panels and painters from the so-called Masters’s Cycle. Blue-on-white paintings display religious and profane themes The goddesses Ceres Diana National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalThe goddesses Ceres and Diana in the Santos Simões Room

panel Marriage of the Chicken National Tile Museum Portugal Lisbon “Macacaria” panel Marriage of the Chicken related to satire

Chapel of Saint António National Tile Museum Portugal LisbonOn floor One it is the Chapel of Saint António the patron saint of Lisbon Terracota Nativity National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalTerracota Nativity Scene in the Chapel of Siant António
Hatter António Joaquim Carneiro National Tile Museum Portugal LisbonNeoclassical tiles beginning in the 18th century. The set of panels represents the history of the bourgeois and hatter António Joaquim Carneiro lining walls National Tile Museum Portugal LisbonExhibition of tiles for lining walls in the Pombaline period (1750-1777)
tile panel of various patterns for facades National Tile Museum Lisbon Portugal19th century tile panel of various patterns for facades of urban buildings relief techniques National Tile Museum Portugal LisbonTile of 19th century of high relief techniques
 New Art National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalTile panel from the 20th century with influences from the New Art Lisbon Oceanarium National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalTile painel of the Lisbon Oceanarium

Great Panorama Lisbon panel National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalGreat Panorama Lisbon panel, 23 meters long showing the view of the city before the 1755 earthquake

Church National Tile Museum Portugal Lisbon Leaving the National Tile Museum with a view of the facade of the Church of Madre de Deus

Then we visit the fantastic building of Casa dos Bicos about three kilometers from the National Tile Museum. This building was ordered to be built by Brás de albuquerque, son of the second Viceroy in India at 1521. Overtime, it underwent several renovations maintaining the architectural style of its facade.

Casa dos Bicos Lisbon Portugal archeologyFacade of the entrance of Casa dos Bicos

It currently houses the José Saramago Foundation and it is also part of the Lisbon Museum with a small archaeological exhibition. This beautiful building in the shape of nozzles of diamonds keeps several stories of people who passed an lived in Lisbon. One of them was the Roman presence more than 2000 years ago, being Olissipo the name of Lisbon and one of the municipalities of Rome.

Thus, the riverside part of the Tagus River, preserves Roman archaeological remains of walls and an industry of fish preparations and condiments very important for the development and affirmation of the Roman impire serving not only for local and regional consumption but also for export.

Archeological National Tile Museum Lisbon PortugalView from inside of Casa dos Bicos Archaeological Museum Walls Roman Lisbon PortugalStratification of wall segments over time referring to Old Fence

Tank Roman fish Lisbon PortugalTank (cetaria) coated in waterproofing mortars where the fish were marinated

After the visit to Casa dos Bicos with the tummy demanding something comforting, we went to lunch at the Alegro Manjerico restaurant where we ordered alheira (meat sausage) and stewed veal. It was delicious!

Alheira (meat sausage) Portugal Lisbon foodAlheira (meat sausage) Stewed veal Lisbon PortugalStewed veal

Lunch Lisbon PortugalThe deserved lunch

The visit to the National Tile Museum is a unique opportunity to learn about the history of the Tile in Portugal, also raising its artistic and cultural expression from Portugal to the world. Also the visit to the Casa dos Bicos drive us to imagine and enter into the municipality of Olissipo of the Romans about 2000 years ago, in the current riverside area of Lisbon.

We hope that our readers and travel lovers will also be able to visit these magnificent museums that have pleased us immensely.

References Museu Nacional do Azulejo; Flyer Núcleo Arqueológico da Casa dos Bicos

Thanks to Manuel Manero for blogging recommendations

Please leave your feedback

Rui Vasconcelos

Follow us

Plugin: Facebook plugins comments