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Azulejos, the beauty of Lisbon ceramics

Azulejos, the beauty of Lisbon ceramics

Have I ever mentioned just how beautiful the capital city of Portugal is? Visiting any corner of Portugal is a very personal experience, and that is probably because of the special traits of the places here. Today we are going to take a moment to review something specific as well: Azulejos, the beauty of Lisbon ceramics.

One of the things you are going to see as you walk about the winding streets of Lisbon is how the facades of the buildings are covered in white and blue tiles. These are called Azulejos, the word deriving from the Arabic word az-zulayj, roughly translated as “polished stone.” The first ones to use them were the ancient Egyptians, but the tiles became a special trait of Portugal around the 15th century, when they were introduced here by the Moors.

King Manuel I was inspired by the grand Spanish Alhambra castle and decorated his Sintra palace with the same beautiful tiles.

Azulejos can be found everywhere: outside and inside houses, restaurants and institutions, in tube and railway stations, decorating fountains or benches in the park. They cover not only walls, but also floors and sometimes ceilings and used to have both aesthetic and functional properties, preserving a constant temperature in the buildings.

The most outstanding ceramic art in Lisbon is probably the facade of the Madre de Deus convent. The tiles tell the story of Moses, the works of St. Clara and those of St. Francis de Assisi. In 1971, this church became the central part of the National Azulejo Museum, whose mission is to preserve and harbor the art of Portugal across time.

Portuguese tile production is also an industry here, with factories exporting their products to Northern Europe and other corners of the world.

In a Lisbon tour, you can also admire the marvels of the Portuguese Azulejos and take the time to photograph and review them all.