In 2015 I put up a series about Portuguese tile art on this website. The article is still one of the most clicked on here. A couple of years later I want to start the year with coming back to the topic and showing more of these magnificent Azulejos, as they are called. This time around though they are not as clean and shiny, they are more washed out, sprayed, beaten and even rusty. They tell stories of everyday life in Portugal, how nature blends in with them and how street artists use them as canvas.
The capital of Azulejos is without any doubt Lisbon. Just to remind you, Azulejos are thin-glazed ceramic tiles covering many historic buildings in Portugal. Last time I presented them to you I featured Azulejos from all of Portugal. This time though I want to lay my focus on the capital of the country. Azulejos come in all sorts of forms and colors, the variety is really remarkable. Though if you look closely there are differences within the country (I have no scientific proof for my bold hypothesis). The patterns in Northern Portugal tend to my more flowery and very often they are composed of earthy and grounded colors while in Lisboa there are definitely more bright colors and the style is more geometric.
ecorative 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.).