Museum of Decorative Arts Lisbon, a former 17th century Palace near Portas do Sol viewpoint: fascinating collection & lovely azulejos (Portuguese tiles)
In this wonderful former Palace in Lisbon (Museu-Escola de Artes Decorativas), Museum and school, it’s forbidden to make pictures. After taking a few ones a guard warned me. Suddenly, walking from room to room, 4 guards kept an eye on me. Portugal’s most important furniture collection can be viewed here: valuable wooden Portuguese, French and English furniture dating from the 15th to the 18th C. You can wander freely from room to room and get right up close to the pieces on display.
The entrance. ‘Coupé Berlin, 18th Century.
The 17th C. former city palace of the Count of Azurara stands on the Largo das Portas do Sol in Alfama, in the heart of Lisbon’s historic centre, currently houses the Museum of Decorative Arts. The banker Ricardo do Espirito Santo Silva, whose family was one of the richest in Portugal, acquired the palace in 1947 and donated his collection to the museum. Visitors to the museum are transported on a journey to an elegannt 18th Century Portuguese setting, where the artistic quality of the works, ranging from the 15th to the 18th Century, highlight the Founder’s taste and passion for Portuguese Decorative Arts.
The grand staircase leading to 1st floor has lovely tiles.
An on-site collection of tiles (azulejos), several of which originallly pertained to the Palace, while others were integrated therein during the restorations works, in the end of the 1940s.
The azulejo is a form of Portuguese painted, tin-glazed, ceramic tilework. They have become a typical aspect of Portuguese culture. Azulejo comes from the Arabic word az-zulayj, meaning polished stone. Wherever you go in Portugal, azulejos are to be found inside and outside cafes, churches, palaces, ordinary houses and even ceilings, train- or subway stations. Many azulejos chronicle major historical and cultural aspects of Portuguese history.
Beautiful ceiling and azulejos! Sorry, no more pictures (the guards…).
The museum has a remarkable collection of faience, local silver and ceramics, paintings, bedrooms, dining rooms and dressing rooms. Each room is more ornated than the next, in an aristocratic environment. Anyone interested in decorative arts in general and the Portuguese Empire in particular will find this collection fascinating.
Museum of Decorative Arts, Alfama
Closed: New year’s Day, Easter, May Day (May 1st) and Christmas (December 25). Cost Adult 4.00, free entrance for children aged 12 or under. Opening hours 10 a.m to 5 a.m. Museum shop: publications, replicas and other articles. Patio with cafetaria-restaurant.