Tile Art Tales From Lisbon, Portugal's City of Light

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Lisbon, Portugal, ancient ceramic tile, museum Azulejo

There are cities that look great in every tourist photos, and there are cities so beautiful that no photo, no matter how skillfully taken, could do the justice. Lisbon, Portugal’s city of light is definitely one of those magical cities!

Visiting the city of seven hills, you find yourself fascinated by the colonialist history, the ornate architecture and perceive the greatest and most impressive collection of Azulejo tile art in the world!
Today’s article explores the beauty of Azulejo tile art as one of the most influential art forms in Portugal and contemplating its splendor throughout the city of Lisbon.


Speckle of Portugal’s Tile Art

Although they date as far back as the 13th century, the azulejos tile art secured their footing in Portuguese culture between the 16th and 17th centuries. The word azulejo stems for ‘small polished stone’. Originally they were fairly simple structures cut into geometric shapes in neutral hues. It wasn’t until Portugal’s King Manuel I visited Seville and brought the idea back, that Portugal truly implemented this art form into its culture.

Azuljo tile art is mainly used to cover up the large areas of blank murals and buildings that were common inside during the Gothic period. Antique azulejos were decorated in a pastel color palette, dominated by shades of blues and white. Later on, they brought new colors to their palettes like shades of yellow, gold and greens.

This art form tells the stories about the history, religion, and culture of Portugal.


Tile work in Porto, Portugal

Azulejo Tile Art Of Lisbon

In 1755, right after the earthquake which almost destroyed Lisbon, the city of 7 hills, saw a shift from Manueline architecture the Portuguese-Gothic style to Pombaline styles, which involves the application of Azuljo tile art.

Just as the Italians love to decorate their walls with painted frescos, the Portuguese love to create murals, and cover surfaces with azulejos tile art. Intricate and astoundingly beautiful, the traditional ceramic tiles of Lisbon often depict insightful scenes of its history. To this day, beautiful tiling can be still found all over the city of Lisbon. From Museu Nacional Do Azulejo and Fronteira Palace to factories like Viúva Lamego.



Must Visit In Lisbon: The National Tile Museum (Museu Nacional do Azulejo)

The National Tile Museum, also known as Museu Nacional do Azulejo is one of the most impressive museums to visit in Lisbon, by force of the fact it’s one of a kind in the entire world. Mosaic and tile art enthusiasts who want to get an insight into this art form worth should certainly explore this Portuguese museum, where they can admire an artwork consisting of about 1,300 tiles and measuring 53 meters in length. This artwork renders the city of Lisbon as it used to look like before the 1755 earthquake, dating back to 1738. You can also explore other tile art showcased in this museum which, by some visitors’ opinion, is one of the tourist sights not to be missed out once in Lisbon.

 vintage azulejos tile art

Portuguese traditional religious tiles

Have you ever been to Portugal? In one word, how would you describe this city? Share your thoughts with us about Portugal’s city of 7 hills and let us know if you have visited other cities enriched with tile art and mosaics!

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