Arty Lisboa

"I think with my eyes and my ears,

with my hands and my feet

and with my nose and my mouth.

For to consider a flower is to both see it and smell it

and to eat of fruit is to understand its meaning."


Fernando Pessoa

Why art? Because it is something that distinguishes people from animals, beriching and lifting us up, making us somewhat "better" human beings.

I feel drawn to art, it inspires me and makes me feel and think deeper. From raising up memories to feeding with new ideas - the pot of the art's energy source is bottomless. Portuguese art brings me closer to Portugal, to Lisbon, I guess.

Nota bene: all pictures in this article are taken with my mobile.


Two cold weeks in Lisbon gave me enough time to discover its arty side "bit à peu", inside art galleries and museums. It is always a good idea to be around the city, no matter the weather, leaping from cafe to shop to gallery to restaurant. Life is happening outside of your hotel room.

My all around Lisbon guidebook had some art chapters to browse through and this was where I started.

I chose to visit Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga first. It promised to show a rich collection of paintings and sculptures hosted in a beautiful palace. "Sounds good," so I headed there one early morning, walking the streets of Lisboa all the way from my AirBnB to Rua das Janelas Verdes.

Gotta say I walked the main streets close to the highway not to loose my route, all the way down, towards the bridge. Only later - when I took a break from art in a local cafe - I discovered the backyard way - the actual Rua das Janelas Verdes, which would be cosier to walk. I recommend you take it.


Now, let's explore Antiga's art.

I wanted to see portuguese paintings. My favourites were:

"O Bom Pastor" (the good shepherd) by Frei Carlos


Portrait of Mariana, painter's daughter by Domingos Antonie de Sequiera


Frankly, I found little to my taste. The collection was very religious, and I liked pieces which were less popular than the announced highlights in the book. According to the guide, this master piece is of great historical importance:

Veneracao de Sao Vincente by unknown


I browsed my round quickly and left the museum towards the earlier mentioned cafe - La Boulangerie Lisboa.

The food and atmosphere in there were so welcoming, that I returned there a year later.



Hiding myself from a cold and rainy day in March, I entered the underground. This was my first ride on the Lisbonese metro. Clean and clear, I concluded. I was heading to Praca de Espanha - the stop for Foundation of Calouste Gulbenkian.

Amongst the first visitors, I enter the museum full of anticipation. Sculptures, vases, Egyptian cats were the first ones to welcome the visitors.

I browsed through the halls, absorbing art and seeking for a connection - which artist would magnetize me?

Gulbekian foundation hosts artists all around the world combined with Portuguese pieces.

I photographed more, than in Museu Antiga, that was for sure.

Peacock and hunting trophies by Weenix Jan. 1708, Holland.


A school group gather around one painting, their teacher standing upfront leading the conversation about the drawing. It's hard not to recognise Turner's brush. Quillebeuf, Mouth of the Seine. Worth a discussion of a school class. Early attraction to art, reminds me of Blaine and the National Gallery.

I feel good I am here. Finally a museum waking my interest. My 6th chakra - the so called 3rd eye chakra AJNA - is opened today big time. Creativity. I am in a flow and I endulge in this centre of visionary imagination "beyond tomorrow to decades".


The best is yet to come. I finish with the first section and move over to the next building, passing a beautiful inner garden. The nature makes me forget the cold and think of spring, my favourite season of all.


I enter the building block for modern art. Still containing history, it is closer to me and I move from painting to painting discovering one artist after next, including them into my digital "keep" for further research. In fact, Gulbenkian has their own blog posts about artists exhibited in the museum - it is interesting to see those pages.

Here are my favourite artists:


I was lucky to visit Esher's exhibition in Belem, whilst in Lisboa. I combined it with exploring the tower and the surrounding area. I've known Esher since my school days, when our art teacher showed us his paradoxical misleading-the-eye-games with people walking on stairs.

I learnt about Esher's time in Italy and Spain, and most impressive was his tesselation art. Inspired by its Moorish origin of the 14th century, Esher worked with geometric patterns, repeating and covering the space gaplessly i.e. tesselations. Taking it futher, the artist replaced geometry with fish and animals.

I learnt more about the Hollander. He suffered from depression, browsing streets of Rome at night and drawing the black and white scetches of what he saw. Biology and taking inspiration from natural patterns like bacteria or leaves was also his thing and these ideas resonated as something new with me.


Lisbon has got more to offer than what is described above (Museum of Fado, Museum of Coches and so on). Do your thing, yet if you ask me, I'd recommend to nip into Gulbenkian.


My arty Lisboa is mindmapped below. You will find more articles featuring mentioned below key words - just browse the blog, stay tuned and have fun #xoxo.

#lisbon #art #museums