Azulejos are painted, glazed ceramic tiles that are an integral part of Portuguese culture, though this art form was originally brought here by the Arabs who ruled Lisbon from the 8th to the 12th centuries. Today the decorative tiles—mostly in blue-and-white—can be found covering the inside and outside of churches, palaces, simple homes, railway stations, and even private homes. You'll see them everywhere, and once you visit this museum you'll understand their significance.  The permanent exhibition traces the history of tile painting in Portugal from its origins to designs by contemporary artists. The room showing some of the oldest, multicolored tiles—from the 15th and 16th centuries—reopened in late 2013 after refurbishing. A temporary exhibition running through much of 2014 focuses on the Chinese influence on Portuguese tile making. The museum is housed in the Convent of Madre de Deus (Mother of God) founded in 1509 in the eastern part of the city. The main building is itself an architectural gem, built in the Manueline style typical of the Portuguese discoveries period. Inside, the convent church has rich Baroque decoration where the blue of the tiles is matched by ornate gold-coated woodwork.