CulturallyOurs History And Culture Of Azulejo Tiles Art In Portugal

Exploring Azulejos Tile Art in Portugal

CulturallyOurs History And Culture Of Azulejo Tiles Art In Portugal

When someone mentions Portugal, a few things come to mind: Lison, Porto, the famous port wine and of course fresh catch of the day – seafood! But when you reach Portugal one thing that you see all around are beautiful artistic tiles called Azulejos! These glazed ceramic tiles are everywhere and are deeply embedded in Portugal’s history and culture. They come in all different colors and patterns. There is even a Museum of Tiles in Lisbon that showcases more details around the history of azulejos and how they come to be such a beautiful representation of Portugal and Portuguese culture. They are used  to decorate buildings – both inside and outside.

Azulejos first came to Portugal in the 15th Century, when parts of the Iberian Peninsula were still under Moorish rule. Although many assume the word is a derivation of azul (which is Portuguese for “blue”), the word is Arabic in origin and comes from the word ‘az-zulayj’, which roughly translates as “polished stone”.CulturallyOurs History And Culture Of Azulejo Tiles Art In Portugal

Earliest Records Of Azulejos

Azulejos date as far back as the 13th century, when the Moors invaded the land that now belongs to Spain and Portugal, but they secured their foothold in Portuguese culture between the 16th and 17th centuries. Originally they were fairly simple structures cut into geometric shapes in neutral tones. It wasn’t until Portugal’s King Manuel I visited Seville and brought the idea back, that Portugal truly adopted this artwork into its culture.

The tiles were used to cover up the large areas of blank wall that were common inside buildings during the Gothic period. Antique azulejos were decorated in a simple color palate, dominated by blues and whites. It is believed that these colors were influenced by the Age of Discoveries (15th – 18th centuries) and considered fashionable at the time. The other colors that appeared were yellow (sometimes looking gold) and green. After their introduction by King Manuel I, simple geometric shapes were replaced by more ornate decoration. It was typical for the Portuguese to tell stories about their history, religion, and culture through this decorative means; they soon became pieces of public artwork.CulturallyOurs History And Culture Of Azulejo Tiles Art In PortugalAfter the Earthquake of 1755 which destroyed most of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal saw a shift from Manueline architecture (a Portuguese-Gothic style) to Pombaline styles, also influencing the use of azulejos.

Modern Uses Of Azulejos

During the last couple of centuries, the use of azulejos has exploded in Portugal. Today, it is common to see them decorating churches, monasteries, restaurants, bars, railway and subway stations, palaces, and regular homes. They are also used extensively indoors and artists today conduct workshops and classes teaching this traditional art form.

Tiles and tile decorated giftware are sold in almost every gift shop in Portugal and even flea markets and outdoor stalls sells old, vintage tiles along with modern new ones. Today, azulejos are a dominant feature in every Portuguese city and can be seen in the villages as well. In addition to public buildings and private homes, they are used as street signs, to decorate public benches, and even along beach walls.CulturallyOurs History And Culture Of Azulejo Tiles Art In PortugalOn a recent trip to Portugal which involved a whole lot of exploring and driving coast to coast we loved seeing all the beauty of azulejos all around the country.

Azulejos From Portugal

Exploring and studying tile art Azulejos in Portugal

Exploring Azulejos Portugal Tile Art By CulturallyOurs

Exploring Azulejos Portugal Tile Art By CulturallyOurs

Exploring Azulejos Portugal Tile Art By CulturallyOurs

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