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Azulejos of Portugal

Decorative building façades composed of thin-glazed ceramic tiles are considered a national art form in Portugal with a long historic tradition dating back to Arabic times. In Português they are called “Azulejos”, most probably stemming from the Arabic “al zulaij” meaning small polished stone. In fact the technique was adapted from Moorish decorative art in the early 16th century and gained popularity quickly in the aspiring Portuguese architecture of the time. Still today many houses as well as churches are decorated with these beautiful works of art produced over time by many tile maker workshops in different parts of the country (and in other Portuguese speaking countries around the world like Brazil). Probably there are almost as many patterns as there are Bacalhau receipts, but maybe that’s slightly exaggerated  😉 Interestingly though their use is not purely decorative in nature but the tiles also have practical gains as they help to control the temperature within the covered buildings.

I didn’t get to photograph all of the tile houses I passed by as that would definitely be a lifetime task (someone out there is attempting I am sure), but some of the artwork caught my eye while living and traveling in Portugal in the beginning of the year. I will post another collection with Azulejos specifically from Lisbon, the following are from all over the country (Porto, Coimbra, Aveiro, Guimaraes, also Lisbon etc.).

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Of Land and Sea: Nature of Portugal

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Most travellers of Portugal know Lisbon, some go to the Algarve in the south. Mainly for classic beach vacations in holiday resorts. Not as well known though is the natural part of the country.

Laying open to the grand Atlantic Ocean, the Portuguese coast seems endless with steep cliffs and beautiful sand beaches. As the sea is in the west, the sunsets are especially beautiful and vivid. At this time of the day sailing ships tend to roam the horizon, even enhancing the kitschy scenery. Probably you will have a companionship of seagulls around you, they seem to enjoy the sunsets as much as the humans.

Even less known is the “hinterland”. Especially the north of the country offers a lot to the backpacker with high mountain ranges and magnificent castles. The weather tends to be a bit cooler in these regions, perfect for a hike in the evening. So what are you waiting for? The adventure awaits!

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