We saw them everywhere we looked when we visited Lisbon in Portugal and Granada in Spain in 2010 and we saw them again when we visited Porto last Spring: blue and white tiles called azulejos on the walls of churches, palaces and even ordinary homes. In this post we’ll take a look at some of these tiles that adorn the facades of Porto’s most prominent churches.
Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.
Arabs from North Africa admired the mosaics used in Roman architecture and began to use tin-glazed ceramic tiles to cover their walls in a similar manner. Then they conquered Spain and brought their tiles with them. Because the Moslem religion forbids depicting humans and animals these tiles only contained patterns. Then Christian artists added human figures and eventually historical scenes to the tiles. King Manuel of Portugal visited Seville in 1503 and was fascinated with the tiles he saw there. Soon azulejos began to appear all over Lisbon and it wasn’t long until Porto, too, joined the throng. By the 1700s azulejos were firmly integrated into Portuguese culture.
We’ll look at some more of these tiles in my next posting.