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Azulejos in Portugal

Tiles (called Azulejos) are everywhere in Portugal. They decorate walls of churches and monasteries, palaces, ordinary houses, park seats, fountains, shops, and train stations. Azulejos date back to the 13th century, and the word Azulejo stems from Arabic roots, meaning ‘small polished stone.’ King Manuel I was astonished by the Alhambra in Granada (Spain) and decided to have his Palace in Sintra decorated with the same vibrant ceramic tiles. When visiting a church or cathedral in Portugal, many are decorated in Azulejos, depicting a style that started during the 16th century. Birds and leaves were frequently symbols used as decoration, possibly inspired by Asian fabrics. Famous sites known for their Azulejo art include the Sao Bento Railway Station in Porto, and the Buçaco Palace.

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