If you are on holidays in Portugal or if you’re planning to come visit Lisbon, you are going to hear about the famous Portuguese tiles. They are everywhere, in the streets, on the front of many buildings, it is part of our cultural identity since, at least, from the XV century.
The tradition of painting on tiles dates back from the Arabic culture during the Moorish occupation on the Iberian Peninsula. The Portuguese artisans love the Arabic way of painting on tiles and since then the evolution of tiles in the Portuguese culture has been rather unique all over the world. You can see the evolution of the tiles art in Portugal at the National Tiles Museum where it is throughly documented and shown. There you can find, for instance, one of the major pieces from the XVI century, Retábulo da Nossa Senhora da Vida, composed by 1384 tiles which have survived the 1755 earthquake.
The new tiles industry has grown with the clergy and noblesse orders to decorate and adorn churches, palaces and gardens. The themes were inspired by the travels going to the orient, scenographic compositions, major feature of the baroque style, with geometric patterns among other. From that time on the “azulejo padrão” has been one of the original ways to use tiles.
After the 1755 earthquake, due to the need for a rapid rebuilding of Lisbon, other types of tiles appeared such as the “pombalinos” tiles, which have the name of the major responsible for the reconstruction of the city, Marquês de Pombal. By the end of the XVIII century the tiles aren’t ordered just by clergy and noblesse anymore, but also by great bourgeoisie to their farms and palaces having sometimes their family history painted on them.
It is on the XIX century that tiles conquer a great visibility on the Portuguese society and come to the front of buildings in a strict relation with architecture. Soon, there is an intensive production and it was beeing built in tiles factories in Lisbon, Porto and Aveiro. Later on, on the XX century tiles became more popular and are used also on the subway stations and even on kitchens and toilets ofs house of an entire population.
Beneath you can find some of the different tiles used in the streets of Lisbon, but if you would like to know more about where to go to know these palaces and churches covered with tiles adornations just get in touch with us. We will take you there!