Lisbon Museums

Apparently there are about 40 museums in Lisbon but so far I’ve just been to three! First, I took myself off by myself to visit the tile museum which was reputed to be just a mile down the road from our place. The walk was not one of the more scenic ones I’ve taken in my life! It follows the main road that borders the river. To my left was a succession of peeling and crumbling buildings and to my right, past the speeding cars, looming cranes, hunks of industrial waste, and all the various dock detrius. Not attractive! But I needed the exercise and the weather was hot and sunny!

I eventually made it to the tile museum and enjoyed an hour or so of, well, tiles. Lots of tiles. Piles and piles of tiles. I enjoyed the oldest ones dating from around the 15th century because they were abstract and some of the 20th century ones because they also were abstract. However, the bulk of the tiles were blue and white depictions of various nature scenes, people, buildings, etc. In one very large room was a huge blue and white tile mural that had been created a few decades before the 1755 earthquake and so showed many buildings that were destroyed.

Abstract tiles from the tile museum

The tile museum is in an old convent

20th Century tiles

 After leaving the tile museum, I had a little adventure getting back to the apartment! I decided to take a bus and so duly found the bus stop and checked out the busses that were to stop there. I quickly figured out that I could take any bus that came along except one. Of course, the first bus to arrive was the bus I shouldn’t take but I couldn’t see the number and so hopped on anyway.

I had a scenic ride up into the heart of workaday Lisbon – far from the downtown area with not a tourist in site. After riding for awhile and realizing that I’d probably end up in the Lisbon equivalent of Coquitlam if I stayed on the bus, I hopped off, consulted my map and finally found the right bus to take me down to the Alfama. I rather enjoyed being up in a regular neighbourhood. It wasn’t terribly scenic, just a normal everyday area where middle aged ladies in sweater sets towed shopping baskets and kids with backpacks walked home from school.

That evening I cooked my first meal in the apartment — a great success and rather welcome after almost a month of restaurant meals. The apartment kitchen is very nicely set up with a gas stove which I’m very much enjoying once I got over being afraid of it! Too bad I can’t have gas at home.

The next day Gregg and I hopped on the metro (our first ride) and went up to the Gulbenkian museum in the more modern part of Lisbon. It’s a world class museum featuring the collection of Calouste Gulbenkian, an Armenian oil tycoon who came to Lisbon during the war and subsequently bequeathed his collection to the people of Portugal.

It’s just a lovely, lovely museum – particularly all the rooms full of Egyptian, Greek, Moorish and Asian art. There are also quite a few rooms of European painting, but I liked the sculptures, tilework, and pottery the best. Here are a few highlights.

Beautifully lit Greek statue

Greek vase — totally intact

Fabulous tile work in the Moorish area

More amazing tiles

Gorgeous pottery – Gulbenkian sure had an eye for good stuff

A Turner!

A Byrne-Jones

We also had a quick peek at the modern art museum next door, which had some nice pieces. The gardens surrounding the museums were very restful. All in all, a nice cultural outing!

We ended the day with another home cooked meal accompanied by fado from the local restaurant.

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