Figurative azulejo panels in the distinctive shades of blue and white
Known as the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, or "National Museum of the Azulejo", this museum is housed in the buildings of the Mosteiro da Madre de Deus, or "Monastery of the Mother of God", a 500 year-old former monastery with some beautiful tile decorations, three courtyards, and a large collection of relics.
The plantings greeting visitors at the entrance of the museum
The smallest of the courtyards is now covered but the other two are still open to the sky and contain two very different garden spaces. The larger one is a rather traditional cloister with a central fountain, formal box hedges (Buxus sempervirens), and hybrid tea roses (Rosa sp.).
The larger courtyard garden photographed from the second-story gallery
The somewhat smaller courtyard is situated next to the former kitchen of the monastery which now serves as the museum's café and is planted rather lushly with various tropical plants. It is covered with lattice-work and netting to provide shade and has a fountain at one end and a small central watercourse that runs across the central paved terrace. During the summer months this is where visitor's to the café would sit but at the time of our visit it was still a bit chilly.
The fountain and rill in the smaller courtyard, very reminiscent of Moorish designs
The walls of the courtyard are almost completely covered in creeping fig (Ficus pumila)
Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) underplanted with spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum 'Variegatum')
Besides the courtyard gardens, however, there is also plenty of floral interest to found in the actual tiles on display.
One of the more famous azulejo designs at the museum - I have actually seen this one on postcards.